Of the 3.3 crore applicants, over 19 lakh people found their names missing from the final list of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam on Saturday. All those excluded from the list will now get an opportunity to file appeals and be heard in the Foreigners’ Tribunals (FT) within a period of 120 days.
“A total of 3,30,27,661 people had applied to be included in the NRC. Of them, 3,11,21,004 have been included in the document and 19,06,657 excluded,” a statement from the NRC State Coordinator’s office said. The final list was published at 10 am and the hard copies of the Supplementary List of Inclusions are available for public viewing at the NRC Seva Kendras (NSK), offices of the deputy commissioner and offices of the Circle Officer during office hours. Follow Assam NRC final list 2019 LIVE Here
In a bid to reduce panic, the Assam government had already ruled out detention of people who do not figure in the list “in any circumstances” till the time Foreigners Tribunals declare them foreigners.
The NRC is an exercise to identify Indian citizens living in Assam, a state marked by illegal migration from Bangladesh. The final draft was published in July last year and included 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore applicants— excluding around 40 lakh people. The exercise, mandated and monitored by the Supreme Court, is a fallout of the Assam Accord of 1985, which sets March 24, 1971 as the cutoff date for citizenship.
Way forward for 19 lakh excluded from NRC
The 19 lakh people excluded from the final list can appeal with the Foreigners Tribunal within a span of 120 days 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. 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.
BJP not happy with the final NRC list
Hours after the final list was released, several BJP leaders claimed that the party was unhappy over the results. Himanta Biswa Sarma, senior BJP leader and Assam Finance Minister, said the list that has excluded over 19 lakh people, is “erroneous” as “more illegal migrants should have been excluded” and that the party’s fight to “exclude every single foreigner” from the state will continue. Sarma told The Indian Express that the BJP and the state government will now approach the Supreme Court again for “re-verification” of the citizenship in the border districts.
“The NRC has not been able to fulfil the expectation of the people of Assam because the entire process has excluded 19 lakh people, among which 3.80 lakh did not wish to appeal and those who have already died. So, the actual exclusion currently is 15 lakh, out of which around 5-6 lakh people are those who have migrated from Bangladesh due to religious persecution before 1971,” Sarma told The Indian Express over the telephone.
Opposition attacks BJP over NRC
Alleging that the ruling party was trying to “hoodwink” the people of Assam, former chief minister and senior Congress leader Tarun Gogoi accused the saffron party of failing to ensure a free and fair NRC. “I am not happy with the way the NRC has been published with names of genuine Indian citizens left out and foreigners included”, the three-time former chief minister told reporters. Gogoi added that he had doubts about the NRC becoming a “waste-paper and ultimately this what it has turned out to be”.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress hit out at at the Centre for allegedly trying to drive out Bengalis from Assam in the name of NRC. “My heart goes out to all those, especially the large number o Bengali-speaking brothers and sisters, who are made to suffe because of this botched-up process,” CM Mamata Banerjee said. “Our party (TMC) supremo (Banerjee) is very concerned about the future of the 19 lakh people who have been left out of the NRC list. What will happen to them? What is their future? The central government has to take their responsibility,” senior TMC leader Firhad Hakim said.
BJP leaders call for NRC in respective states
Several BJP leaders called for conducting NRC in their respective states in a bid to weed out illegal migrants. Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari pitched for NRC in the national capital saying the “situation is becoming dangerous”. “NRC is needed in Delhi as the situation is becoming dangerous. Illegal immigrants who have settled here are the most dangerous, we will implement NRC here as well,” Tiwari was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Similarly party president in West Bengal, Dilip Ghosh called for its implementation in the state citing national security reasons. “We demand that just like Assam, NRC should also be implemented in Bengal. If the TMC government is not willing to bite the bullet, we(BJP) will implement it and drive out Bangladeshi Muslims from the state after we come to power in 2021. Hindu refugees don’t need to worry. BJP will stand by them and they will be given citizenship,” he told reporters in Kolkata.