Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) updates its citizen’s list today for the first time since 1951 and according to the resultant draft, names of some 40 Lakh people are missing out from it. These people are at the risk of losing their citizenship if they fail to prove the same. They might even face deportation. This has been done in the wake of accounting the illegal immigration from the neighbouring country, Bangladesh.
Officers from NRC have been reiterating that the list is a mere draft and is not the final list and no one will be deported based on it. Home minister Rajnath Singh said: “Some people are unnecessarily trying to create an atmosphere of fear… This is a draft and not the final list” Critics are insinuating that this move is aimed at targeting the Muslim population of Assam on the pretext of overthrowing the Bangladeshi immigrants from Assam.
3.29 Crore people had applied to prove their citizenship and out of them, only 2.89 Crore names have appeared in the revised draft. Almost 40 Lakh names are missing. They face the risk of being rendered illegal by the government. NRC coordinator Sailesh, who had released the draft had stated that it is just a draft and not the final list and those people who haven’t been included can make claims and objections, the process of which will begin on 30 August and go on till 28 September. He also said that no genuinely Indian person needs to fear.
Assam’s neighbouring country Bangladesh is a Muslim nation. There has been a major influx of “illegal immigration” from Bangladesh to Assam. This is the reason that Assam is the only state in the country with an NRC office. The case of “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh has been a bone of contention in the Assam politics since years where it is also argued that it leads to illegal voting and religion-based divisive politics.
To get their names registered in the list, the residents of Assam had to submit documents proving that their ancestral family resided in Assam before 24 March 1971 i.e. a day before the Bangladesh Liberation War began. The first NRC was prepared in 1951. According to 1951 census, the population of Assam was 80 lakh. Since then the NRC is being updated in fits and starts, first in 2005 and later in 2009. Since then the process is going on and 3.29 crore people have submitted documents to prove their citizenship. The first draft of NRC was released in December, last year in which 1.9 crore people were listed. The final draft is released today which has listed the remaining people. In total, 2.89 crore people are considered citizens and 40 lakh are not.
The Assam Cheif Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal has stated in a press release that “no one will be treated as a foreigner if his or her name does not appear in the NRC draft” and that such people will be granted sufficient time to prove their eligibility to be included in the NRC list through claims and objections.
As of yet, Assam is in the state of tension. Over 22,000 troops of paramilitary have been deployed in the state and the nearby areas. The state police are on high alert and leaves of all government employees has been cancelled.