The Assam government and the ruling BJP in the State have termed the finalisation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) list there as a “mixed bag” with concerns being raised over several “technical flaws” in the process that may have caused exclusion of Bengali Hindu refugees who had crossed over to Assam before 1971.
Speaking to The Hindu , Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the State government would approach the Supreme Court again for a reverification process, on a pilot basis, in a couple of districts to try and address the anomalies.
“The NRC authority has registered many cases where documents were questionable after which we asked for a reverification of 20% of the cases in border districts and 10% in other districts as we found that in border areas, where populations were high, deletions were low, whereas in tribal areas deletions were higher in proportion. The Supreme Court denied that request. We will go back again to the SC and ask that at least in two districts, on a pilot basis, reverification should happen,” he said.
According to him, the outcome saw two kinds of people among a total of over 19 lakh exclusions : “Bengali Hindu refugees who had come over before 1971 and others who had issues with their documentation.”
He said there were “technical flaws in the NRC exercise as many NRC officials did not recognise refugee certification issued before 1971, as a result of which many Bengali Hindus remained outside the list.”
He said he was also concerned with the over 3 lakh people who did not appeal against their exclusion when the draft NRC had come out earlier. “There are lakhs who did not reapply. Unless you update the NRC nationally, we will not know the net result of illegal immigrants across the country,” he said.
He insisted that going forward, the process of detecting foreigners would not be restricted to just the NRC exercise.
“The NRC is one place, but our border police have the right to pursue enquiries against those with questionable documents and citizenship, for the detection of illegal foreigners, and that will continue,” he added.
On the question of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which had been moved in the last Parliament but couldn’t be passed, Mr. Sarma said those who would be covered under that law were “not a significant number”.
The NRC exercise had been undertaken under the supervision of the Supreme Court, and the final NRC list, out on Saturday, will be followed by a 120-day appeal window for those who want to dispute their exclusion from the list.