Assam NRC-excluded are not ‘stateless’, says External Affairs Ministry

Ministry says those not in NRC will not be detained and will enjoy all rights

Updated - September 02, 2019 12:07 am IST

Published - September 01, 2019 10:12 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A NRC officer arranges documents at a centre in Guwahati.

A NRC officer arranges documents at a centre in Guwahati.

Individuals excluded from the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam will not become stateless and will continue to enjoy equal rights available to all Indians, Raveesh Kumar, official spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry, said on Sunday.

Mr. Kumar declared that the implementation of the NRC process would be done in accordance with the democratic traditions of India.

“Exclusion from the NRC has no implication on the rights of an individual resident in Assam. Those who are not in the final list will not be detained and will continue to enjoy all the rights as before till they have exhausted all the remedies available under the law. It does not make the excluded person “stateless”. It also does not make him a ‘foreigner’,” Mr. Kumar said on Sunday.

The statement came a day after the publication of the final NRC list that excluded more than 19 lakh individuals. The mammoth exercise was reported widely by the global media over the weekend. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi also expressed concern, and urged India not to leave anyone as a stateless subject.

However, the External Affairs Ministry said reports in “sections of the foreign media” were incorrect.

Concerns in Dhaka

Following the declaration of the final NRC, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh A.K. Abdul Momen reiterated that the NRC was an internal matter of India that would not affect Bangladesh. India has maintained that the excluded individuals will not be deported to that country. Dr. Momen reminded reporters about the assurance of his Indian counterpart when questioned by the media in Dhaka.

The Ministry spokesperson maintained that the NRC was a “non-discriminatory process, which leaves no room for bias and injustice and that it is a fair process based on scientific methods”.

Allaying fears about the future of those excluded from the NRC, he said the list was supervised by the Supreme Court of India and was carried out with directives from the court.

Following the final list published on August 31, excluded individuals can file an appeal within 120 days to a designated Tribunal. Those excluded even after this process will have the option of approaching the High Court of Assam and the Supreme Court of India.

Mr. Kumar said the Government of India would support those appealing for reconsideration of their applications. He argued that “inclusion in the NRC is a unique process, as it is based on ‘application’ rather than house-to-house enumeration”.

The official said Indian democracy followed “equal rights for all” and “respect for the rule of law” as enshrined in the Constitution of India and emphasised that “any decision that is taken during the process of implementation of the NRC, will be within the four corners of the Indian law and consistent with India's democratic traditions”.

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