Assam’s first citizens’ list will have 2 crore names

Those left out need not fear as enumerators are still verifying claims and they will feature in subsequent drafts, says official.

Updated - December 29, 2017 09:09 pm IST

Published - December 29, 2017 09:00 pm IST - New Delhi

CRPF personnel stand guard at Juria village in Nagaon district of Assam on December 28, 2017.

CRPF personnel stand guard at Juria village in Nagaon district of Assam on December 28, 2017.

A couple of days before the “part draft” of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is published in Assam, a senior government official said here on Friday that if someone’s name was not on the list, it did not imply that he or she was not an Indian citizen.

On Supreme Court directions, the Registrar-General of India will publish the list on December 31 to distinguish Indian citizens living in Assam from those who illegally entered the State from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.

The official said the initial list would contain the names of nearly two crore of the 3.28 crore who applied for inclusion in the registry from 2013.

He said the list would be put up at 2,500-3,000 government “seva kendras” and on the website of the Registrar-General. In addition to this, those who have registered their mobile numbers with the State government would get messages on December 31.

“There is a major concern among the people of Assam that those names that don’t feature on the draft list, which is only the first in a series, cease to be Assamese citizens. This is not true; it only means that their verification is pending. There is another stage of claims and objections. If anyone has been excluded, their names will be included. That is why only the part draft is being published as enumerators were still verifying lakhs of documents submitted to support the claims,” the official said.

A Home Ministry delegation led by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba visited Assam a few days ago to take stock of the security situation.

Just first of a series

There are apprehensions that the publication of the registry could lead to protests and other law-and-order incidents as many names are expected to be excluded initially. The official explained that the December 31 list would be followed by “subsequent drafts”.

The court on November 30 said that on December 31, the draft NRC, pertaining to 2.38 crore claims, would be published.

The exercise to update the NRC is being carried out in Assam following a decision in 2005 after a series of meetings between the Union and the State governments and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in an attempt to document bona fide Indian citizens living in Assam.

Assam, which faced influx from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only State having an NRC, first prepared in 1951.

Of the 3.28 crore applications submitted, there was confusion over the inclusion of 29 lakh people who had submitted certificates issued by ‘gram panchayats’ as proof of identity, after a Gauhati High Court order in February had deemed ‘panchayat’ certificates invalid, the official said.

The Supreme Court set aside the High Court order and upheld the validity of the certificates as identity proof if they were followed up with proper verification.

When the NRC was first prepared in Assam way back in 1951, the State had 80 lakh citizens.

A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the AASU in 1979. It culminated in the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985 in the presence of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

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