Other States

Cleanse voters’ list before Assam polls: NGO

An Assam-based NGO, whose 2009 petition in the Supreme Court led to the exercise of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), has demanded that the voters’ rolls be cleansed of “illegal foreigners” ahead of the 2021 State elections.

The Assam Public Works (APW) said the polls should be postponed if the government does not undertake 100% re-verification of the “faulty” NRC and revise the voters’ list by deleting the names of all non-citizens within six months.

The complete NRC was published on August 31, 2019. It excluded the names of 19.06 lakh out of a total of 3.3 crore applicants for alleged lack of documents establishing them as residents of Assam before the midnight of March 24, 1971 — the cut-off date for determining citizenship according to the Assam Accord of 1985.

The APW and other groups batting for the rights of the ‘khilonjia’ (indigenous people) rejected the NRC, claiming the State has at least 41 lakh “illegal migrants,” a term often used interchangeably with “Bangladeshi.” A draft NRC published on July 31, 2018, had left out 41.07 lakh people who had to undergo a round of claims and objections for making it back in the list.

“The inclusion of names of Bangladeshis in the voters’ list led to the Assam Agitation (1979-85). An NRC that leaves out only 19 lakh people cannot be accepted, as the number of illegal foreigners is much, much more,” APW president Aabhijeet Sharma told journalists on Monday. “The voters’ list, thus, has to be revised drastically before elections are held so that non-citizens cannot take part in an Indian democratic process,” he said.

The NRC, Citizenship (Amendment) Act and Clause 6 of the Assam Accord seeking constitutional rights for the indigenous people of the State dominated the first of the four-day monsoon session of the 126-member State Assembly on Monday.

The issues led to a furore in the House, leading to the ejection of some Congress and All-India United Democratic Front MLAs.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 4:25:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/cleanse-voters-list-before-assam-polls-ngo/article32491931.ece

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