The complete draft of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) was released on July 30. Names of more than 40 lakh people were missing from it. The development sparked uproar. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC were imposed in several districts of Assam to maintain law and order. Political parties remained split over the issue.
Publishing the document, Register General of India, Shailesh, said out of the 3,29,91,384 applicants, the names of 2,89,83,677 people had figured in the draft. The deficit was of 40,07,707. The part draft, published on December 31 last year, had the names of 1.9 crore people. Later, the cases of 1.5 lakh people, whose names had figured in it, were kept in abeyance. The citizenship fate of 1.39 crore applicants was to be decided in the complete draft. However, Sailesh refused to give figures of the complete draft.
“People, whose names have not figured in NRC, need not worry. Neither they will be branded foreigners nor will punitive action be taken against them. They will get an opportunity to file claims and objections. The names of no genuine Indians will be left out,” Sailesh said. “We will maintain status quo as regards the fate of those whose names have not figured in NRC till the final draft is published”.
The Centre, meanwhile, had dispatched 220 additional companies of central paramilitary forces to the state. Prohibitory orders were enforced for an indefinite period in Barpeta, Darrang, Sonitpur, Dima Hasao, Bongaigaon, Dhubri, Karimganj and Golaghat districts. As many as 22 localities in Guwahati are sensitive, according to Police Commissioner Hiren Nath.
The updation of NRC has been in deference to the Assam Accord of 1985 which the then Rajiv Gandhi government had signed with the All Assam Students’ Union at the end of six-year bloody Assam Agitation. As per the exercise, which is being directly monitored by the Supreme Court, people, who entered Assam after March 24, 1971, will be viewed as illegal immigrants. However, they will get a window of 30 days to file claims and objections. Eventually, the final NRC will be published.
The Congress has questioned the non-inclusion of over 40 lakh people in the complete draft of the NRC and alleged it was a “motivated” action by the BJP which was trying to play “politics of polarisation”.
Former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who had spearheaded the six-year-long Assam agitation against foreigners and was a signatory to the historic Assam Accord, told PTI that the central government “must deport people, who have come after March 24, 1971, to their original country”.
AIUDF president Badruddin Ajmal said exclusion of 40 lakh people was “not a small matter” and the party will provide assistance to all people whose names did not feature in the draft to ensure that no genuine Indian citizen is left out. He however, added that everyone should wait for the final list.
Assam PCC President Ripun Bora hoped that the Centre would implement in letter and spirit Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement that no genuine citizen would be left out. Veteran Assam Congress leader and former chief minister Tarun Gogoi said that 40 “is a big figure” and he feared that most of them are “genuine” Indian citizens. Many people had expected that a correct NRC draft will be published, but that has not been done, he said adding the BJP government in the state has not given any actual figure of foreigners in Assam till today. “In my opinion most of those whose names have been excluded are genuine Indian citizens and in this list people across communities have been excluded including many Hindus and Bengali speaking people,” Gogoi said.
The BJP government, he said, is saying that those excluded from the NRC need not fear and would be allowed to file claims and corrections. “This proves that BJP itself admits that genuine Indians are being excluded because if they are foreigners why are they being allowed to file claim when they should be identified and corrective action be taken”.
He claimed the “double standards” of BJP have been “exposed” as they first said that they will protect Hindu Bengalis but are “now targeting even those among them who were part of pre-1971 India”.
“Unfortunately NRC’s original objective remains unfulfilled even after crores of rupees being spent in updating it”, he said.
He claimed that Union Minister Rajnath Singh is now trying to shift the blame of the “weak implementation” to the Supreme Court. “It is shameful as the Supreme Court has never directed that genuine Indian citizens be harassed.”
Welcoming the publication of the complete draft, Mahanta said names of genuine Indian citizens should be there. This was not the final NRC and “we should wait for the final publication of the NRC”, he said.
AIUDF’s Ajmal said non-inclusion of over 40 lakh people “is not a small matter though we must take into account that this is not the final NRC and we must wait for it”.
All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) General Secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said the draft publication is “a historic moment after the signing of the Assam Accord”.
Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) Advisor Akhil Gogoi also welcomed the publication of the draft and assured legal help to genuine Indian citizens.