GUWAHATI: Amid unprecedented security arrangements, the government of Assam on Saturday released the final list of the National Register of Citizens, which included 3,11,21,004 people as Indian citizens and excluded 19,06,657 others. The citizens' registry was released online around 10 AM, ending six years of speculation over the exercise that identifies illegal foreigners living in the Assam.
According to the Assam government officials, the list was released online at all NRC Seva Kendra (NSK) across the state. ''Those not satisfied with the outcome can file an appeal before Foreigners Tribunals, said Prateek Hajela,'' State Coordinator, NRC.
Ahead of the publication of the NRC list, security was tightened across parts of Assam. As a precautionary measure, fifty-one companies of the Central Armed Paramilitary Force (CAPF) were deployed in various parts of the state. Section 144 of CrPC was clamped in Dispur, where the state Secretariat and Assembly complexes are located. Prohibitory orders were also clamped in vulnerable areas like Bhangagarh, Basistha, Hatigaon, Sonapur and Khetri. Prohibitory orders are already in place in Dispur since August 28 and will stay until further notice.
Barring AASU, all major political parties, including Congress and AIUDF, had expressed fear that names of many genuine Indian citizens might be left out while those of the illegal foreigners may be included. Keeping in view the far-reaching implications of the move, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had called upon the people of the state to maintain peace and tranquillity.
Ahead of the publication of the NRC list, the Ministry of Home Affairs also urged people not to believe in rumours. The NRC assumes significance for the people of Assam as the state witnessed a six-year-long movement between 1979 to 1985 seeking detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshis.
The exercise to update the NRC list was started in the state on orders of the Supreme Court in 2013. It was carried out by the Registrar General of India and monitored by the apex court. The process of NRC update in Assam differs from the rest of the country and is governed by Rule 4A and the corresponding Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
"These rules have been framed as per the cut-off date of March 24 (midnight), 1971 decided as per the Assam Accord. The process of receipt of NRC application forms started at the end of May 2015 and ended on August 31, 2015. A total of 3,30,27,661 people applied for it through 68,37,660 applications," said a statement issued by the NRC authorities on Saturday.
"The particulars submitted by the applicants were taken up for scrutiny to determine the eligibility of their inclusion in the NRC.
"The NRC update is a mammoth exercise with around 52,000 state government officials working on it over a prolonged period. All decisions of inclusion and exclusion in the list are taken by these statutory officers. The entire process has been meticulously carried out in an objective and transparent manner," it said.
The draft NRC, which was published last year, found 2,89,83,677 persons eligible for inclusion in the list. "Thereafter, claims were received from 36,26,630 people against their exclusion," the statement said, adding that a verification was also carried out of the persons included in the Draft NRC under Clause 4(3) of the Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
"Objections were received against the inclusion of 1,87,633 persons, whose names had appeared in the Complete Draft. Another Additional Draft Exclusions List, which was published on June 26, 2019, had 1,02,462 names," it said.
"Taking into account all the persons already included and after disposal of all the claims and objections and proceedings under Clause 4(3), it has been found that a total of 3,11,21,004 persons are eligible for inclusion in the Final NRC leaving out 19,06,657 persons, including those who did not submit their claims," said the statement.
Meanwhile, the Central and state government has assured that the people left out of the Final NRC will not be detained and they can appeal against their exclusion in the Foreigners` Tribunals (FT) and subsequently move higher courts.
"These people can first approach the Foreigners` Tribunals (FT) and subsequently move to higher courts if not satisfied with the FT ruling," said Kumar Sanjay Krishna, Additional Chief Secretary (Home & Political).
The Assam government will establish 400 Foreigners` Tribunals in the state to deal with such appeals.
Krishna added that legal aid will also be made available to those excluded from the Final NRC through the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA).
The Central Government had earlier extended the time period for appeal in Foreigners Tribunal from 60 days to 120 days.
Last month, the Supreme Court had rejected the central and Assam governments' plea for sample re-verification to find out wrongful inclusions or exclusion of names in the NRC.
The Supreme Court-monitored NRC exercise, aimed at identifying illegal immigrants, mostly from Bangladesh, was carried out only in Assam, which faced an influx of people from the neighbouring country since the early 20th century.