Final Assam NRC list out, CM Sonowal says will take care of those excluded
Millions of people across Assam braced for the final publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on Saturday, capping a decades-long movement against so-called foreigners but also stoking fears of loss of citizenship and long periods of detention.
The NRC, which was first undertaken in Assam in 1951 and was being updated since 2015, is aimed at detecting and deleting so-called illegal immigrants from citizenship rolls.
In earlier drafts of the provisional NRC, roughly 4.1 million were left out — many of them from Bengali-speaking Hindu and Muslim communities.
The government has moved to allay fears of deportation or any drastic axing of political rights with chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal stressing an appeals process for those left out of NRC.
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These appeals will be heard at one of the state’s many foreigners’ tribunals, quasi-judicial bodies set up to adjudicate whether somebody is an illegal migrant.
“The government of Assam will take care of the cause of the excluded people and due care will be taken so that nobody is subjected to any unnecessary harassment,” he said.
Ahead of the publication of the NRC at 10am on Saturday, the police have also sought to calm fraying nerves especially in rural areas, where many citizens complain that they have been left off the rolls despite having valid documentation.
Assam director general of police Kuladhar Saikia said 218 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed across the state. “The situation is under control and proper law and order plan and proper requirement plan has been put in place,” he said.
But many citizens said they were ready for a long battle to prove that they are Indian. “We are quite tense. We don’t know what will happen if we don’t make it,” said Nur Islam Ali, a resident of Baksa district.
What is happening today?
The final National Register of Citizenship (NRC) list will be disclosed on August 31. Those left off the NRC face losing their citizenship, being put indefinitely into camps, or deported
What is the NRC?
The NRC, which was first prepared in 1951 to enumerate citizens, their houses and holdings, sets out to identify foreign nationals. Assam, which has roughly 33 million people, is the only state where it is being updated. The process began following a Supreme Court order in 2013
March 24, 1971
Applicants had to produce documents proving they or their families lived in India before this date
What qualifies a person as a citizen
To be named in the NRC, people had to submit a form with any of the 14 ‘List A’ documents to establish their family residence before the cut-off date and another ‘List B’, or link document, to establish their relationship with the ancestor they traced their lineage to
4.1million left out in the latest draft published on June 26, 2019
3.7million have filed claims for inclusion
200,000 objections filed against inclusions
What happens to those excluded?
The government has reiterated that those excluded will not automatically be declared foreigners. Those excluded have 120 days to appeal to foreigners tribunals. If an appeal is rejected, a person can approach higher courts. If declared a foreigner by the tribunal, a person risks detention
117,164 persons declared foreigners by tribunals as of July
1,145 in detention
Can they be deported?
Only four declared foreigners have been repatriated. Most such proposals are pending because the declared foreigners dispute the ruling. There is also a question of whether origin nationalities of the people declared foreigners can be determined and if those nations will accept them
HOW IT WAS DONE
₹12,000 crore spent by government on the process
55,000 government officials involved
64.4 million documents examined
A LONG INCLUSION DEBATE
1951: NRC is prepared for Assam based on data from India’s first census
Dec 30, 1955: Citizenship Act, 1955, which details how one can become Indian citizen, comes into force
1971: War breaks out in Bangladesh, leading to an influx of refugees, particularly in Assam
1979-1985: Six-year-long agitation against foreigners spearheaded by All Assam Students Union. In February 1983, over 2,000 people die in a riot in Nellie
Dec 12, 1983: Parliament passes Illegal Migrants (Detection by Tribunals) Act to stop flow of illegal immigrants to Assam
Aug 15, 1985: Assam Accord, which stipulates foreigners will be detected, deleted from electoral rolls and deported, is signed
2003: Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Act comes into force. Both this and the Citizenship Act, 1955 are used to update the 1951 NRC
July 2005: SC strikes down Illegal Migrants Act, 1983. Foreigners would now be detected under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964
2013: SC calls for updation of NRC; process begins in 2015 and is monitored by SC
Dec 31, 2017: Draft NRC is published. Only 19 million of 32.9 million applicants are included
July 30, 2018: Complete draft of the NRC released. Names of 4 million applicants missing
June 26, 2019: Additional draft exclusions list released. Another 100,000 applicants excluded
August 31, 2019: Final NRC to be released