Five years, four deferred deadlines and ₹1,220 crore later, the outcome of one of India’s largest headcount exercises – the Supreme Court-monitored National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam – is scheduled to be published on Saturday.
The State has been anxiously awaiting the final NRC that is envisaged to quantify the number of illegal immigrants, a decades-old political issue, and filter them out from the genuine Indian citizens.
The anxiety surrounds the number of people likely to be excluded from the 3.29 crore applicants. More than 41 lakh people were excluded from the draft NRC in two phases, of whom 3.61 lakh did not re-apply for inclusion.
The unease is more among people of Bengal origin, both Hindus and Muslims. While international organisations and rights groups have panned the State machinery of targeting migrant Muslims, State Home Department officials said the exclusion list could have more Hindus.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said certain forces have been carrying out propaganda against the NRC. “The NRC exercise under the supervision of the apex court will soon reach a conclusion, and I am sure everything will be peaceful. I want to assure those who will be left out that they should not worry. The government will provide help [in filing appeals], and if there is any issue, they can get in touch through the district administration,” he said in a statement.
“There is a degree of panic, but people know there are options to challenge exclusions. The fear of the Assamese people from being overrun by outsiders had triggered this exercise, which we feel was necessary to stop viewing the minority people as Bangladeshi,” said Moniruz Zaman, leader of the All Assam Minority Students’ Union.
But the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has panned the NRC for being faulty.
“We think it has included the names of many foreigners. This was why we had wanted a large-scale re-verification,” State party president Ranjeet Kumar Dass said.
A senior government official in Delhi said the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) has recorded the biometric details of all the persons who had filed claims under the NRC exercise and Aadhar cards will be issued to them if their names are included in the final register.
( With inputs from Vijaita Singh )