A senior Home Ministry official said on Friday that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) did not collect data on “religion” of individuals. The NRC form that the applicants had to fill in did not have a “religion” column, he said.
There have been apprehensions that this exercise was done to target people on religious lines.
On July 31, Assam’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma had in an interview to CNN News18 said that out of the 40 lakh people whose names had been excluded from the NRC draft list, “almost 13-14 lakh were Hindus who may have voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).”
The official said that identifying the applicants on the basis of religion was not their mandate.
“Since the NRC form does not have the column for applicants to specify their religion, there is no way one could segregate the applicants on that basis. Around 2,000 NRC seva kendras (help centres) would have catered to the 40 lakh people not included in the final draft and if someone wanted to get the data on religion, each of the forms would have to be scanned manually. That was not our job,” the official said.
The four-page application form required applicants to furnish details on age, nationality, occupation, marital status, details of family members among other things.
It had to be filled by the head of the family.
The applicants could provide 16 types of documents such as electoral rolls up to 1971, land and tenancy records, refugee registration certificate, passport, and employment certificate to support their claim.
As per the directions of the Supreme Court, the Registrar General of India (RGI) published the final draft list of the NRC on July 30 to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who had illegally entered the State from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
The first draft containing the names of 1.9 crore out of 3.29 crore applicants was published on December 31 last year.