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Those excluded from final NRC will get a window of 10 months

Calm before the storm: Security personnel guarding an NRC office ahead of the release of the final list in Guwahati.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Those excluded from the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) to be published on August 31 will get a window of 10 months to prove their citizenship before being sent to detention centres, as police officials in Assam on Thursday prepared to face an unprecedented “crisis”.

The publication of the register could be the start of an unprecedented complication — more of the humanitarian kind than of law and order, police officers said.

However, outgoing Assam DGP Kuladhar Saikia said the police and other forces had ensured that security was in place ahead of Saturday. “I believe this entire process will be completed peacefully with awareness and sensitisation drives preceding the exercise,” he said.

Other senior police officers did not rule out “complications for months” after the final NRC.

“The post-NRC scenario will be highly challenging,” said an officer above the rank of Inspector-General of Police, on condition of anonymity.

 

Apprehending a critical situation after the NRC, the Centre had in June decided to help Assam create e-Foreigners’ Tribunals and increase the number of Foreigners’ Tribunals – quasi-judicial establishments headed by members who are lawyers and retired judges and bureaucrats – from the existing 100 to 1,000.

At least 200 of the additional Foreigners’ Tribunals are expected to be set up by September with the government already having appointed 221 new members.

“It is not as if the NRC-rejects would be shoved into the detention centres immediately after the final list is published. The process will take months, if not years, to complete as the people struck off the citizens’ list can go to the High Court and the Supreme Court if they fail to establish their citizenship at the Foreigners’ Tribunals,” the police officer said.

“We cannot say how many will be left out. But each of them will have a window of at least 10 months to challenge his or her exclusion,” Assam’s Additional Chief Secretary in charge of Home and Political departments, Kumar Sanjay Krishna said.

 

Each person excluded will have a maximum of 120 days or four months from the date of publication of the final NRC to challenge his or her case at a Foreigners’ Tribunal, which has to dispose of the case within six months.

Of a total of 3.29 crore applicants, more than 41 lakh people were excluded from the updated NRC via two rejection lists – one published on July 30, 2018, and the other on June 26 this year. Some 3.6 lakh of the excluded did not reapply and there are speculations that at least 20 lakh of those who reapplied will end up in the final exclusion list.

“Some groups with vested interests are giving the impression that the excluded will become stateless and driven out of the country. This will not happen since the Centre is yet to have a deportation policy,” a senior official said.

One of the reasons why the trial of the NRC-excluded could go slow is the saturation of the existing detention camps for people who lost cases in higher courts after being declared non-citizens by the Foreigners’ Tribunals. Six Central jails for criminals, all crammed, double up as detention centres.

 

The government has constructed a separate detention centre at Agia in western Assam’s Goalpara district, but it can house 3,000 people at most. Ten more such centres are in the works.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 10:53:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/those-excluded-from-final-nrc-will-get-a-window-of-10-months/article29292493.ece

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