Of the 40 lakh applicants excluded from the final draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, around 30 lakh had filed claims for inclusion by Monday evening, when the deadline for the “Claims and Objections” round ended,
While the final tally is expected to be clear Tuesday morning, officials said objections against 700 names in the final draft had also been filed till Saturday.
The Supreme Court, which is monitoring the updation process, had fixed December 31 as the deadline for submission of claims and objections. The process for verification of applications in the round is scheduled to begin from February 15, according to the Supreme Court.
Asked about the 10 lakh who have not filed their claims, official sources told The Indian Express that “non-genuine citizens” who had tried to get in earlier “may not try again”.
A B Khandekar, who heads Association for Citizens’ Rights (ACR), which focusses on citizenship issues, said a clear picture would emerge only after the final figures are released, including those whose applications are “on hold”. When the final draft was released on July 30, officials estimated that around 2.48 lakh applications were on hold, pending verification.
“Two factors may have led to even some genuine citizens being unable to file claims. First, the freezing of the ‘legacy person’ for applicants. And second, the lack of capacity building of ground-level officials to deal with complications faced by applicants,” Khandekar said.
The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of the claims round, as accepted by the Supreme Court on November 1, states that a person cannot use a different “legacy person” than the one already listed in the initial application. In the NRC process, legacy persons are those through whom applicants draw their ancestry from prior to March 25, 1971.
In his report submitted to the Supreme Court dated October 4, NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela had attached evidence and case studies to claim that a large number of ID papers are prone to forgery and digital manipulation.
In his report, Hajela had insisted that in the NRC process, there was a “need for a paradigm shift from ‘no genuine citizen should be left out’ to ‘no ineligible person should be included’”.
Hajela’s report did not suggest a freezing of the “legacy person” but pointed out that even if it was done — as suggested by the Centre’s SOP — “large-scale mischief could happen”.
In November, a joint committee of the state and the Centre was appointed to study the position of those not in the final NRC.
“Those who don’t file their claims will not figure in the final NRC but that doesn’t mean they are rendered stateless immediately. They will get a chance to appear before the state’s foreigners tribunals to prove they are Indian citizens. Then, there’s the High Court and the Supreme Court,” said Aman Wadud, a Guwahati-based lawyer.
“But one fallout of not being in the final NRC could be the government deciding that they will be disenfranchised until they can prove their citizenship,” Wadud said.
The deadline for the claims round was earlier scheduled for December 15 but later extended to Monday by the apex court owing to the “slow response”. On Monday, official sources said the state government is unlikely to seek another extension.