Assam begins countdown for publishing of updated citizen register | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Assam begins countdown for publishing of updated citizen register

NRC’s state coordinator said the draft would not include “original inhabitant”, a contentious issue in the state sensitive about identity and culture.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2017 23:15 IST
Rahul Karmakar
A rally by All Assam Minority Students’ Union in western Assam on the National Register of Citizens. The NRC is being updated specifically in Assam under the supervision of the Supreme Court to weed out illegal immigrants.
A rally by All Assam Minority Students’ Union in western Assam on the National Register of Citizens. The NRC is being updated specifically in Assam under the supervision of the Supreme Court to weed out illegal immigrants.(HT File Photo)

Assam on Wednesday began the countdown for the publishing of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) with a campaign to “remove misconceptions about the exercise”.

The deadline is December 31.

NRC’s state coordinator Prateek Hajela said the draft would not include “original inhabitant”, a contentious issue in the state sensitive about identity and culture.

The NRC, first prepared in 1951, is being updated specifically in Assam under the supervision of the Supreme Court to weed out illegal immigrants, a touchy political issue because of large-scale influx of people from Bangladesh over the years.

The issue of original inhabitants generated confusion and controversy after the updating exercise began in March 2013. The SC had specified that only the “tea tribes” (Adivasis) brought from central India to work in plantations by the British as original inhabitants.

But the vagueness of the definition of original inhabitants – as the opposition Congress pointed out in a memorandum to Hajela a month ago – has troubled many communities perceived as non-indigenous. They include the Muslims, Gorkhas and Bengalis.

“We have launched an 11-point campaign to remove misconceptions being spread by some mischief-makers. Our task is to establish the family tree of people with roots in Assam or anywhere in India before March 1971 (the cut-off date for determining illegal immigrants, as per Assam Accord of 1985),” Hajela told HT.

The final push for the draft, however, began without nearly 30 lakh people whose fate will be decided by the SC on November 15 following a petition by All Assam Minority Students’ Union. These 30 lakh are among 47 lakh people who submitted certificates issued by panchayat heads as proof of citizenship. Officials verified the papers and found only 17 lakh to be those of original inhabitants.