A draft NRC, published on July 2018, left 40.07 lakh people out of the list. In June this year, another one lakh people were added to the list of people excluded.

NRC final list to be published on August 31 All you need to know
news NRC Friday, August 30, 2019 - 18:36

The final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), will be published on Saturday – a list which seeks to establish “genuine” Indian citizens living in Assam, in order to deport migrants from Bangladesh. There were a total of 3.29 crore applicants for the NRC, of which 2.9 crore people were included in the drafts of the list. 

Why the list is important: All those on the list will remain citizens of India, and those who don’t make it to the list have a long battle ahead of them that will stretch over the next 10 months where they will have to prove that they are Indian citizens. Anyone declared to be a foreigner faces the possibility of being stateless, unless Bangladesh accepts them as citizens. The list, four years in the making, has caused considerable anxiety. A draft NRC, published in July 2018, left 40.07 lakh people out of the list. In June this year, another one lakh people were added. 

History of the NRC: The first NRC was compiled in 1951, based on the Census that year. This was supposed to be updated from time to time, but that was never done. The state saw large scale migration post-partition and around the time of the Bangladesh war of 1971. Things came to a head in 1978, when the All Assam Students Union (AASU) began demanding the NRC. Agitations continued for six years and culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985. The Assam Accord was signed between the AASU, All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad, Centre and the state government, “for the purpose of detection and deletion of foreigners,” among other issues.

What the list is: Migration has been a contentious issue in Assam. Currently, the NRC is unique to Assam and has been called the largest citizenship exercise in India and possibly globally. The current process commenced after a Supreme Court order in 2013 to remove "foreigners" as per the rules framed in the Assam Accord. The government began the process in May 2015, monitored by the Supreme Court.

The NRC considers those who entered India prior to the end of day of March 24, 1971, to be the cut off date for inclusion, which is the eve of the Bangladesh War. The war began on March 26, 1971.

Criteria for being on the list:

  • Those whose names appear on the 1951 list, or are on electoral rolls before March 24, 1971, and their descendants
  • Documents such as the birth certificate, refugee registration certificate, land and tenancy records, government-issued employment or education certificates dated prior to March 24, 1971
  • Those who moved to Assam but can show proof of living elsewhere in the country prior to 1971
  • Those born in India have to show that the person or their parents were born before a certain cut-off date
  • Not only do people have to prove that their ancestors were in the country before March 24, 1971, but also prove that they are related.  
  • Those born after December 3, 2004, won't be included in NRC if any of the parents is a doubtful voter, declared foreigner by a tribunal, or is contesting the case.

Doubtful voters, also known as D-voters, are a category of voters in Assam who are deprived of the voting rights as their citizenship cannot be ascertained. Around 1.25 lakh people are believed to be doubtful voters, according to official estimates and thousands are under the scanner of the Foreigners Tribunal and Assam Border Police, according to a fact-finding report by an activist group.

What happens on exclusion from the list on Aug 31: The Ministry of Home Affairs recently said that non-inclusion of a person’s name from the list does not automatically amount to them being a foreigner and those not on the list would get 120 days to file an appeal. They will then have to appeal in front of the Foreigner Tribunal, a quasi-judicial body, to make their case. The order by the tribunal can be challenged before the Guwahati High Court, and subsequently in the Supreme Court. However, rejection by the tribunal would entail a person to be declared as a foreigner. 

“It is not as if the NRC-rejects would be shoved into the detention centres immediately after the final list is published. The process will take months, if not years, to complete as the people struck off the citizens’ list can go to the High Court and the Supreme Court if they fail to establish their citizenship at the Foreigners’ Tribunals,” a police officer told the Hindu. 

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has said that they won’t be deported until all their legal options are exhausted. However, it is unclear what happens to those who are declared as foreigners – they could be sent to detention centres. 

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