Hyderabad: Assam has witnessed migration from Bangladesh — formerly East Bengal and then East Pakistan for decades. Assam is the only state that has a National Register of Citizens (NRC) which was first prepared in 1951. The government has updated the list. The process took six-years and the list is ready. However, the new list leaves out over 19 lakh people who now have to prove their citizenship. Those not on the list will not be deported and can appeal before the Foreigners Tribunals and later move the higher courts.
What is the National Register of Citizens (NRC)?
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register containing names of all genuine Indian citizens. It was prepared for the first time after the 1951 census of India.
Why in Assam?
The NRC update in Assam is for the first time and only for Assam. It is a result of the Assam Accord of 1985, which sets March 24, 1971, as the cutoff date for citizenship. The exercise is mandated and monitored by the Supreme Court.
What NRC is doing?
The exercise identifies Indian citizens from amongst all the residents of Assam thereby leading to the identification of illegal migrants residing in Assam, who entered Indian territories after the midnight of 24 March 1971. In addition to determining the citizenship of the applicants who have applied for inclusion of their names in the updated NRC.
Who are 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).
What will happen to those not in the NRC?
They have the option of appealing and can approach, within 120 days, a Foreigners Tribunal with a certified copy of the rejection order from the NRC, along with the grounds for appeal.
In addition to the 100 existing Foreigners Tribunals, 200 more will be functional soon, state government officials said. The state government has also said that they will provide legal aid to the poor who find their names missing in the final list. If the applicant loses their case before such a tribunal, he or she can appeal in the High Court, and then the Supreme Court if necessary. Someone who is excluded from the final NRC and also loses his or her case in a foreigners tribunal may face possible arrest and the prospect of being sent to a detention centre.