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Exclusion from NRC doesn't make one 'stateless' or 'foreigner': MEA trumps myths on citizenship register

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Sunday said that people excluded from National Register of Citizens (NRC) have not become "stateless" or will be termed as "foreigner" and will continue to enjoy all the rights as before till they exhaust all the remedies available under the law.

Exclusion from NRC doesn't make one 'stateless' or 'foreigner': MEA trumps myths on citizenship register

New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Sunday said that people excluded from National Register of Citizens (NRC) have not become "stateless" or will be termed as "foreigner" and will continue to enjoy all the rights as before till they exhaust all the remedies available under the law.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Sunday held a press conference to clarify on certain implications of NRC taking rounds on international media following the Assam government releasing the final list of the NRC, which included 3,11,21,004 people as Indian citizens and excluded 19,06,657 others.

"There have been some commentaries in the sections of the foreign media about aspects of final NRC which are incorrect. Government of India signed the Assam Accord in 1985 with a promise to take care the interest of the citizen of Assam," Raveesh Kumar said.

NRC aims to give effect to the Assam Accord signed in 1985 between the Government of India, State Government of Assam, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and All Assam Gan Sangram Parishad (AAGSP), the MEA spokesman said.

He further stated that exclusion from the NRC had no implication on the rights of an individual resident in Assam and that they will not be deprived of any rights or entitlements which they have enjoyed before.

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Kumar pointed out that updating of NRC was a "statutory, transparent, legal process" mandated by the Supreme Court, and it was not an "executive-driven process". "The process is being monitored by SC directly and the government is acting in accordance with the directives issued by the court. The apex court of the land has itself set the deadlines for all steps that have been taken so far," Kumar said.

Stating that "there was no column in the (NRC) application asking for the religion of the applicant", The MEA spokesperson clarified that "it was a non-discriminatory process, which leaves no room for bias and injustice."

Kumar further reiterated Assam government's earlier statement which said that anyone excluded from the list could file an appeal within 120 days of receiving notification of exclusion to the designated Tribunal. He also stated that the government will assist in providing directions on how to deal with such appeals. "Through the District Legal Service Authorities, the government has provisioned to extend legal aid to the needy, " Kumar added.

In conclusion, the MEA stated that India has "firmly enshrined equal rights for all and ‘respect for the rule of law" in its Constitution.  Therefore, any decision that is taken during the process of implementation of the NRC, will be within the four corners of the Indian law and consistent with India’s democratic traditions. 

The statement comes in the wake of fears and news reports that the 1.9 million people left out of the NRC could be evicted from India. On Saturday, the citizens' registry was released online, ending six years of speculation over the exercise that identifies illegal foreigners living in the Assam.

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.