People rejected by Assam NRC continue to face Aadhaar hurdle

The biometrics of 26.57 lakh people who did not make it to the first two drafts of the updated National Register of Citizens were frozen

February 08, 2024 06:12 pm | Updated 07:36 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Villagers check their names in the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) at an NRC center in Buraburi village in Morigaon district, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam.

Villagers check their names in the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) at an NRC center in Buraburi village in Morigaon district, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. | Photo Credit: AP

The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) on February 7 sought an end to the ordeal of more than 26.57 lakh people who have been unable to acquire Aadhaar cards after their biometrics were frozen during the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

A total of 26,57,784 people were rejected in two NRC drafts published on December 31, 2017, and July 30, 2018, for failing to produce documentsthat could have established their citizenship.

Some 7.51 lakh of them were included in the complete draft published on August 31, 2019, following the claims and objections phase of the NRC. However, their biometrics along with those of the 19.06 lakh who could not make it to the citizenship list continued to remain frozen.

Also Read | The confusion over the status of the Assam NRC  

Aadhaar limbo

“These 26.57 lakh people have been unable to apply for government or private sector jobs and acquire ration cards, voter cards, and other documents for which an Aadhaar number is mandatory. They have been deprived of their rights for no fault of theirs,” AIUDF legislator Aminul Islam said in the 126-member Assembly.

“The Centre, Assam government, and the Registrar General of India (RGI) should soon take steps to unlock the biometrics of these hapless people,” he said.

He pointed out that the NRC exercise worth more than Rs 1,600 crore has been in limbo despite 56,000 officials having worked on it for six years. “Let the NRC take its course, but the Aadhaar hurdle for the 26.57 lakh people must end,” he said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika, in his reply, said the State government was worried about the fate of the people whose biometrics continue to be locked.

Also Read | Assam plans action against people who forged documents to be in NRC

“We formed a sub-committee to handle the issue and also took it up with the RGI apart from submitting a memorandum to the Centre in August 2022 seeking a solution to the problem. But the matter is with the Supreme Court, which has been monitoring the NRC,” he said.

Mr. Hazarika also said that the government has continued to detect and deport foreigners according to the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985 although the NRC work is incomplete.

“Till December 31, 2023, a total of 1,59,353 people were identified as having entered the country illegally. Of them, 32,473 came before March 24, 1971 (the cut-off date for detecting foreigners according to the Assam Accord),” he said.

A total of 30,107 foreigners were deported between 1971 and January 28, 2024, he added.

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