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First NRC list to be released today, high alert in Assam; CM Sarbananda Sonowal appeals for calm

Ahead of the release of first NRC list, Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal has called upon the people of the state to maintain peace and tranquillity.

First NRC list to be released today, high alert in Assam; CM Sarbananda Sonowal appeals for calm

Guwahati: The Assam government will publish the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) list on Saturday. Security has been beefed up across the state to maintain law and order ahead of the publication of the NRC list. As a precautionary measure, fifty-one companies of the Central Armed Paramilitary Force (CAPF) have been deployed in various parts of the state.

Section 144 of CrPC has been clamped in Dispur, where the state Secretariat and Assembly complexes are located. Prohibitory orders have been 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. 

According to officials, the list will be released online at 10 AM on Saturday, taking a further step in identifying whether a person residing in Assam is actually an Indian or a foreigner.

The publication of the final NRC list - a sensitive political issue - is likely to stir up a huge gamut of reactions involving a large number of stakeholders. Barring AASU, all major political parties, including Congress and AIUDF, have expressed fear that names of many genuine Indian citizens might be left out while those of the illegal foreigners may be included.

Similar doubts have also been voiced by the original petitioner- Assam Public Works (APW)- whose writ petition before the Supreme Court led to the NRC updation under the supervision of the apex court. It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had earlier extended the deadline for publication of the National Register of Citizens in Assam by a month to August 31. It also refused a plea by the state and Union governments to re-verify inclusions in the draft in districts bordering Bangladesh. 

Keeping in view the far-reaching implications of the move, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has called upon the people of the state to maintain peace and tranquillity.

Sonowal said the NRC, which has been updated by the state NRC coordinator and his team under the monitoring of the Supreme Court and the supervision of Registrar General of India, is an outcome of the untiring efforts of thousands of people.

The Assam Chief Minister also said that those people whose names have been excluded from the proposed NRC would get an opportunity to file their appeals and be heard in the Foreigners` Tribunal (FT) as per the direction of the Union Home Ministry.

Ahead of the publication of the NRC list, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday urged people not to believe in rumours on publication of the Assam NRC list. 

“Do not believe rumours about NRC. Non-inclusion of a person's name in NRC does not amount to his/her being declared a foreigner,” tweeted the spokesperson of Home Ministry. 

“Every individual left out from final NRC can appeal to Foreigners Tribunals, an increased number of which are being established,” said another tweet.

The Home Ministry spokesperson also shared a five-point guideline

1. Non-inclusion of a person's name in NRC does NOT amount to his/her being declared a foreigner.
2. Every individual left out from the final NRC can appeal to the Foreigners Tribunals (FT). 
3. The time limit for filing appeals in FTs has been increased from 60 to 120 days. 
4. Government will provide legal aid to those needy people who have been excluded from NRC, through the District Legal Services Authorities. 
5. An increased number of FTs are being established at convenient locations. 

The guideline also shared 24/7 toll-free NRC helpline numbers: 15107 (for Assam) and 18003453762 (outside).

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) was first published in Assam in 1951 and hasn't been updated since. 

On July 30, 2018, the Assam government published the draft NRC which included the names of 2.9 crore of the state`s total 3.29 crore people but excluded over 40 lakh people due to discrepancies. A massive controversy arose over the exclusion of 40 lakh people from the draft NRC.

On June 26, the state published an additional draft exclusion list of the NRC comprising the names of 102,462 persons. These people were initially included in the draft NRC published but subsequently found ineligible due to different reasons

Assam has seen a huge influx of people from neighbouring nation Bangladesh.