The much-awaited final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam was published today, which has been prepared under the supervision of the Supreme Court of India. This is an updated NRC from the original which was published in 1951. The NRC has been prepared under the Section 4A of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, which provides for a separate citizenship law for Assam which is different from the rest of the country. The cut of date for inclusion was the midnight of 24th March 1971.
In the final NRC published today, 3,11,21,004 persons have been included, and 19,06,657 persons have been excluded. A total of 3,30,27,661 persons had applied for inclusion of their name in the NRC, a process that had started in May 2015 after it was being demanded by people of India for more than three decades. More than 52,000 employees of the state government were deputed in the NRC work, which was continuously monitored by the Supreme Court of India.
On 30 July last year, the final draft of NRC was published, which had included 2,89,83,677 names. Among the people excluded in the draft, 36,26,630 persons had applied for inclusion of their names in the register. On the other hand, objections against the inclusion of 1,87,633 persons were also received. On 26 June this year, an exclusion list containing the names of 1,02,462 was published.
The final NRC has been made available at NRC service centres, circle offices and the offices of district commissioners. Individual applicants also can check their name on the NRC website only using their application reference number.
The organisations in Assam, including AASU and AGP, who led the foreigner’s deportation movement in 1970-80s, have welcomed the publication of the final NRC, but also have expressed dissatisfaction over it. They believe that the number of people excluded in the NRC is much less than the estimated number illegal immigrants from Bangladesh living in the state.
It may be noted that even before the final NRC was published, there were apprehensions that the NRC is not going to be error-free. It was felt that the much-delayed process was rushed through in the final months. The people who worked on it were state government employees on deputations, and due to lack of proper training, lots of errors crept in during the initial months. The NRC administration and the state government realised it later, but it was too late. They had requested the Supreme Court to allow sample re-verification to identify the errors, but the apex court didn’t allow it.
Organisations fighting for the deportation of illegal foreigners from Assam have said that they will approach the Supreme Court for rectification of the ‘faulty NRC’.
Although 19 lakh people have been excluded from the NRC, it is not the end of the road for them. Now they will be able to file appeals at the Foreigner Tribunals, special courts in Assam that deal with illegal immigration. The state government has already expanded the number and capacity of Foreigner Tribunals in anticipation of surge in appeals following publication of NRC.