The verification of citizenship documents of 29 lakh married women, mostly migrant Muslims, in connection with the Supreme Court-monitored exercise to update the 1951 National Register of Citizens, will begin in Assam on April 2.
These women, who had submitted contentious panchayat certificates as proof of citizenship, are among 1.39 crore people left out of the first draft of the updated NRC that was published at the stroke of midnight on December 31. The Gauhati High Court had ruled that the panchayat certificate had no statutory sanctity. But the Supreme Court set aside the verdict in December last year and said they could be used to claim inclusion in the NRC.
The other major verification process — verification of family tree of those yet to be included in NRC — had begun on February 17.
“We are verifying the documents of these married women from April 2 as per the SC judgment last year,” Prateek Hajela, State NRC Coordinator, told The Hindu on Thursday. “The court had told us to do three things — check authenticity of their documents, look at the evidence based on which each certificate was issued originally, and give opportunity to the women to place their case.” The verification process, he said, entailed having a hearing-based system, under which each married woman would be called to a location close to the gram panchayat from where she had obtained her domicile certificate.
The gram panchayat secretaries would also be called so that they could produce the evidence on the basis of which they had issued the certificates.
“Each woman will also be asked to produce whatever evidence she can gather, oral or written,” Mr. Hajela added.
Officials said the completion of this stage as well as verification of ‘link documents’ to establish a person’s family tree would pave the way for the second NRC draft to be published.
A link document is a piece of documentary evidence that the NRC authorities sought to prove an applicant’s residency in Assam through the lineage of his or her parents or grandparents before March 24, 1971 — the cut-off date for deportation of foreigners set by the Assam Accord of 1985.