What is the National Register of Citizens (NRC)?
NRC was first conducted in 1951 to enumerate Indian citizens. In Assam specifically, there have been mass movements and violent agitations over the decades against infiltrators from Bangladesh and a demand to update the NRC. The decision to do so was taken by the Assam government in 2005. Following violence and police crackdown against anti-NRC protest in Barpeta which led to four deaths in 2010, the project was halted. It resumed on a Supreme Court order. The first draft of NRC for Assam was published in December 2017 and it incorporated the names of 1.9 crore out of 3.29 crore applicants. The final draft of the NRC on July 31 contained 2.9 crore names out of the total 3.29 crore applicants. The names of 40.07 lakh applicants did not find a place in the document which is heralded as final proof of being an Indian citizen in Assam.
Is NRC the only procedure to establish citizenship and identify foreigners in Assam?
No. After a militant movement to protect Assam against Bangladesh infiltrators, the Assam Accord was signed in 1985 between the Government of India and All Assam Students Union (AASU), which led to an amendment in the Citizenship Act, 1955, to incorporate Section 6A specifically pertaining to Assam.
Under this specific section, 100 Foreigners Tribunals have been established in Assam to identify foreigners. Section 6A says all Indian origin persons, including from Bangladesh who entered Assam before January 1966, are deemed citizens. Those who came between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, can also get citizenship after registering themselves and living in India for 10 years. Everyone who entered after March 25, 1971, is to be identified as foreigner by the Tribunals and deported. Roughly, about 1,000 individuals have been declared foreigners by the tribunals and are kept in six detention centres housed in jails across Assam. The NRC also accepts March 25, 1971, as the cut-off date.
What is the procedure to be included in the NRC?
For inclusion in NRC, a unique legacy code is to be submitted in the form to establish parental linkage before March 25, 1971. Legacy documents include electoral rolls up to March 25, 1971, and the 1951 NRC which was digitised and each person allotted a unique legacy code. Apart from legacy documents, any of 12 other documents, including land and tenancy record, citizenship certificate, refugee registration certificate, passport, bank or LIC document, education certificate, etc., can be submitted. For married women, a document issued by the Circle Officer or Gram Panchayat secretary could be furnished.
Who faces exclusion from NRC?
Those declared foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunal and their descendants. Those marked Doubtful Voters or suspected as infiltrators by the local election authorities or the Border Police and their descendants. Those whose cases are pending in Foreigners Tribunals and their descendants are put on hold. Additionally, there are 1.5 lakh names which were there in the first draft but will be excluded from the final draft on account of errors in verification and data-entry mistakes.
Does NRC have its own updated data to identify D Voters and foreigners?
No. NRC depends on the Chief Electoral Officer to provide data on D Voters and the Border Police to provide data on declared foreigners. There is no centralised database updated in real time. An error in ECI software has led to a lot of persons declared as citizens since early 2017 still being reflected as D Voters.
Does NRC guarantee citizenship?
No. The detection of foreigners by the Border Police is continuing whether their suspects are included in the NRC or not.
What happens to those whose names are not included in the final draft of NRC?
From September 25, for a period of 60 days, 40.07 lakh people who do not figure in the final draft of NRC can file their claims and objections to be included in the final list of citizens for Assam.