So what exactly is an NRC and why is Assam the only Indian state to have one? We answer this and more!
In a very significant development, the second and final draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens—a list of all legal citizens of the state—was published today morning at 10:00 a.m.
According to officials, approximately 40 lakh people did not make the final list.
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Out of 3.29 crore applicants, 2,89,93,677 were found to be eligible. Principal Secretary, Home, Prateek Hajela and his team of 68,000 government officials, contractual workers and volunteers, completed the herculean task of updating the state NRC for the first time since 1951. Hajela and his team had to develop an entirely new model of updating the NRC, and had no past precedent to fall back upon for the task.
Here are nine things you should know about the NRC.
1) What is the NRC?
As stated above, it’s the record of all legal citizens of a state. The first NRC was conducted in 1951 following the census held in the same year. To the uninitiated, it’s the list of all houses, alongside the names and number of people residing in them, and their assets. Records of the same were initially stored in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub-Divisional Officers, but in the 1960s all those records were transferred to the police, reports News 18.
2) Why is Assam updating its NRC list?
The genesis of this exercise lies in local politics. In the 1980s, there were demands from leaders of indigenous communities to update the list following reports that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh were entering the state in droves, culminating with the signing of the famous Assam Accord on August 15, 1985. The apparent threat to indigenous cultures and changes to the state’s demographic profile were highlighted as reasons.
3) With the matter in court for decades, the Supreme Court on December 17, 2014, finally delivered a judgement which outlined the timeline on which Assam should update and publish its NRC.
The court took on the task of monitoring the exercise. Although June 30, 2018, was slated as the date for the publication of Assam’s final NRC list, floods came in the way, and the State got an extension.
4) Who is eligible?
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The State government set March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date to identify those who immigrated into Assam unlawfully from Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan).
People can track their names in the 1951 NRC or the electoral rolls up to 1971. If they cannot find their names in the electoral rolls, applicants must furnish other documents like land tenancy records, certificates of permanent residence and passports, among others to prove they aren’t illegals.
Those born after 1971 must furnish documents related to family members, alongside additional official papers ascertaining their relationship like a birth certificate. In a bid to mitigate tensions, the NRC authorities state that “religion will not come into play while deciding a person’s citizenship.”
5) The entire exercise was the handiwork of Hajela and his team of 68,000 officials, including government officials, contractual workers and specialists who ran the NRC Secretariat in Guwahati and 2,500 Nagrik Seva Kendras (NSKs) across the state.
6) NRC State Coordinator has made it amply clear that those who cannot find their names in the final list can reach out to their respective NSKs and submit an application form to file their claim.
These forms will be released at various NSKs on August 7. People, meanwhile, can file their claims anytime between August 30 and September 28.
7) Contradicting rumours spread on various social media platforms, Hajela made it amply clear that those not in the NRC list “will not be sent to detention camps” or Foreigners’ Tribunals. They will have the opportunity to back their claims for citizenship and also submit new evidence for the same.
8) Unfortunately, there is very little clarity from the state or Centre about what happens to illegal immigrants. Will the government deport them? No one knows for sure. Also, what happens to those who have voter ID cards, but are not named in the NRC list?
9) For Assam residents: Check your name in State NRC final draft on the official website www.assam.gov.in. The image below contains other ways you can find out if your name is on the list.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)