People stand in line to register for NRC.(HT FILE)
People stand in line to register for NRC.(HT FILE)

Final NRC list out tomorrow, govt urges calm, ups security

The citizens’ register sets out to identify foreign nationals in a region that borders Bangladesh and where migration has been an issue that has led to violence between communities.
By HT Correspondents | Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Guwahati
UPDATED ON AUG 30, 2019 05:40 AM IST

The government on Thursday sought to ease fears in Assam as the deadline for the publication of the final National Register of Citizenship (NRC) approached, reiterating that those excluded will not automatically be declared foreigners and that people should not believe rumours

The administration in Assam also increased security and issued orders banning large assemblies and use of loudspeakers in some areas regarded vulnerable to violence, including parts of the state capital Guwahati.

The citizens’ register sets out to identify foreign nationals in a region that borders Bangladesh and where migration has been an issue that has led to violence between communities. The process to update the register began following a Supreme Court order in 2013, with the state’s nearly 33 million people having to prove that they were Indian nationals prior to March 24, 1971.

A draft of the NRC left out 4.1 million from among these applicants – the final list has been ordered to be disclosed on August 31.

“Every individual left out from the final NRC can appeal to the Foreigners Tribunals,” a spokesperson for the government said. On August 20, the Union home ministry doubled the deadline to appeal against exclusion from NRC to 120 days.

“It has been a consistent effort to reach out to as many people to inform that non-inclusion in the final NRC list can be challenged and there is no need to panic,” a senior home ministry official, who did not want to be named, said.

The exclusions have led to fears that people will be left stateless, especially Muslim applicants since the government separately plans a law to give citizenship to people practising other religions -- which are minorities in neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The final list will be in the form of a supplementary list that will show the status of the people who were left out in the draft released in July, 2018.

In addition, it will show the status of people who faced objections for alleged “wrongful inclusion” of their names in the list.

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on August 19 indicated that the state government could explore legislative options to deal with “wrongful inclusion” of some names after publication of the final NRC.

Major state political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and All India United Democratic Front, have expressed fears that names of many genuine Indian citizens might be left out while those of the illegal foreigners may be included.

Similar doubts have also been voiced by the original petitioner— Assam Public Works (APW) — whose writ petition before the Supreme Court led to the NRC updation under the supervision of the apex court.

The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), however, has supported the process. “NRC is a legal process being monitored by the Supreme Court to ensure the publication of an illegal foreigners-free register and we have full faith it is going to be free and fair,” AASU chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya told PTI.

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