About 1.43 lakh ‘D’ (doubtful/disputed) voters in Assam would be able to apply for inclusion of their names in the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) but their names would be finally included only when the foreigners’ tribunals declare them as non-foreigners. This was one of the modalities for updating the NRC 1951 which were mutually agreed upon by the Centre and the Assam government.
The State government on Wednesday tabled on the floor of the Assam Assembly a letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs listing 12 modalities including the one on ‘D’ voters.
In 1997, during intensive revision of electoral rolls, the Election Commission had ordered that the letter ‘D’ be written against names of those voters who failed to provide proof of their citizenship and cases of all those were referred to the foreigners’ tribunals. The ‘D’ voters have been not allowed to cast votes in all elections held since then.
There has been a political consensus in the State that the updating of the NRC 1951 by taking 1971 rolls as the basis was the only solution to the vexed foreigners issue in the State and the updated NRC would be an effective means to protect genuine Indian citizens from harassment in the name of detection and expulsion of foreigners.
On March 17, 2010 the Assam Assembly passed a resolution urging the Centre to update the NRC 1951 by taking 1971 electoral roll as the basis towards finding a permanent solution to the vexed problem of foreigners illegally residing in Assam. The Supreme Court has set a timeframe of three years from the date of issue of notification for updating the NRC, 1951. The State government informed the Assam Assembly that the Centre had issued a gazetted notification on December 6, 2013 for updating the NRC within three years.
The State Government also informed the House that as on January 6, there were 1,43,227 ‘D’ voters in Assam. Sonitpur district accounts for the highest number with 24,909 ‘D’ voters followed by Barpeta with 22,814 ‘D’ voters, Nagaon with 15,642 and Dhubri with 13,303. Assam has total 1,87,22,435 voters including 96,94,051 male voters and 90,283,84 female voters, according to final photo-electoral roll 2014 published on January 3.
The Assam government has sought Rs. 440 crore for updating the NRC. The Centre has so far released Rs. 25 crore.