The names of around 40 lakh of 3.29 crore applicants were missing from the Supreme-Court mandated final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) released on Monday. The NRC has been updated for the first time since 1951 to account for illegal migration from neighbouring Bangladesh.
Claims and objections from those not included in the final draft list will be taken up from August 30 to September 28, said officials adding that no one would be deported or arrested as this is only a draft. The complete list would be published only after all these claims are settled. There is no deadline yet for that process.
“Based on this draft no reference case will be sent to the foreigner tribunal or put in a detention centre,” said Satyendra Garg, home ministry officer in-charge of the northeast.
People, whose names have not appeared in the complete list, could end up in detention centres, might get pushed back, become stateless, get long-term work permits without land and political rights.
Among the 3.29 crore applicants, 2.89 crore have been found eligible and their names have been included as Indian citizens in the list released around 10 am today.
Thousands of central forces are in Assam to prevent any unrest over the new draft list. The state has been divided into zones to be monitored by senior police officers. The security forces are also keeping a tab on social media to check spread of hate messages, a senior police officer said. Neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have also beefed up security along their borders fearing an influx from Assam.
The report is “completely impartial”, said Home Minister Rajnath Singh adding that “some people are unnecessarily trying to create an atmosphere of fear. No misinformation should be spread.”
“This is a draft and not the final list,” Singh too reiterated.
Dispelling fears of confinement, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said no one would be sent to any detention camp over the final draft. He, however, asked people to refrain from making “inflammatory” remarks.
The NRC is an exercise which was first carried out in 1951 to enumerate the citizens, their houses and holdings. The list was updated to weed out illegal immigrants as per a provision of the Assam Accord signed in 1985 after a six-year agitation against Bangladeshis.
The Assam government has also initiated a mammoth exercise to reach out to those left out in the final draft list and educate them on how can they file claims and objections.
It was decided that anyone residing illegally in Assam from March 25, 1971 (as per the Assam Accord) would be kept out of the list. To be included in the list, residents of the state had to apply and submit proof that they or their ancestors were in the 1951 NRC or any subsequent voter list till the cut-off date.
Those residents who have been declared as D-voters (doubtful voters) and termed foreigners by the tribunals and their relatives have not been included in the list. But discrepancies in the process of being declared D-Voters being summoned by foreigners’ tribunals have surfaced recently.
The agitation to drive out foreigners was directed primarily at Bangladeshis. When successive Congress and Asom Gana Parishad governments failed to implement the Assam Accord, voters in Assam placed reins of the state in the hands of Bharatiya Janata Party, for the first time, in 2016.
The BJP’s aggressive stance on protecting rights of indigenous and assurances of stopping infiltration appealed to most indigenous Assamese. But that optimism dissipated when the same party sought to grant citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindus by amending the Citizenship Act.