The final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam has been published on Saturday morning. The Assam NRC identifies the bonafide citizens of the state and will nearly seal the fate of more than 41 lakh people who had found their names missing from the final draft of the National Register of Citizens that was published last year.
The complete draft of NRC, containing names of 2,89,83,677 out of 3,29,91,384 applicants, was published on July 30 last year. The draft National Register of Citizens list left out around 40.07 lakh people. An additional draft exclusion list prepared earlier this year took the number of people left out of the NRC to more than 41 lakh.
WHAT IS THE NRC?
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list of genuine Indian citizens. The only time the NRC was published was in 1951. That NRC was based on the Census of 1951.
The 1951 National Register of Citizens is now being updated in Assam to identify the illegal foreigners who may be residing in the state.
Updating the NRC was one of the promises made under the Assam Accord signed in 1985. However, the process to update the NRC stagnated for years, until the Supreme Court took up the matter in 2013 and set a deadline for published an updated National Register of Citizens for Assam.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO BE IN THE NRC?
People whose names appear on the 1951 NRC.
People and descendants of those whose names appear on any voter list prepared in Assam before the midnight of March 24, 1971.
People who came from Bangladesh between January 1, 1966, and March 24, 1971, registered themselves with the Foreigner Regional Registration Office and were declared by the Foreigner Tribunal as Indian citizens.
Indian citizens, including their descendants, who moved to Assam after March 24, 1971 (they need to furnish proof of residence in another part of the country as on March 24, 1971).
HOW IS THE NRC BEING UPDATED FOR ASSAM?
On May 5, 2005, a tripartite meeting was held in New Delhi between the Centre, Assam government and the All Assam Students' Union (AASU). The meeting was chaired by then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. During the meeting, it was decided that the NRC would be updated for Assam.
In June 2010, the Assam government started two pilot projects to update the NRC in two blocks in the state's Kamrup and Barpeta districts. The projects were halted following the violence.
In 2013, the Supreme Court set a deadline to update and publish a revised National Register of Citizens. This deadline was extended over the years, however, unlike in the past, the work to update the NRC actually began in Assam.
In 2015, NRC application forms were distributed. Applications stopped getting accepted on August 31, 2015, and the process of verifying the applications began on September 1, 2015.
Around 3.29 crore applicants had submitted around 6.6 crore documents for including their names in the NRC list.
Around 55,000 state government employees were engaged in the process to update the NRC, which cost around Rs 1300 crore.
WHY IS THE NRC CONTROVERSIAL?
The Assam National Register Citizens is being seen as a stepping stone to more general NRC for the entire country. There are concerns and fears that such an NRC could end up targeting minorities in the country.
There are also concerns the NRC for Assam may end up incorrectly including or excluding people from the list -- the concerns came into focus after the publication of the draft NRC list that excluded more than 40 lakh people.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE NOT IN THE NRC?
The Assam government has assured people that those who find their names missing from the final National Register of Citizens for Assam will not immediately be termed "foreigners" or illegal immigrants.
Those who find their names missing from the NRC list will be allowed to register protests with the Foreigners Tribunal. The people can even approach the Assam High Court or even the Supreme Court in the case in case they are not satisfied with the response of the Foreigners Tribunal.
The Assam government has also said it will provide legal aid to the poor who find their names missing from the list.