The Assam government on Monday said that it sticks to its demand of 10-20% re-verification of names included in the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) published last year, even as it continued its criticism of former NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela.
The remarks by senior minister and government spokesperson Chandra Mohan Patowary in the state Assembly, whose four-day session began on Monday, came exactly a year after the publication of the NRC.
Around 19 lakh applicants were left out of the NRC. The NRC process has hit a stonewall as the rejection orders to the 19 lakh excluded persons — which will allow them to appeal against the exclusion in the Foreigners’ Tribunals — is yet to be issued. Officials have cited the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason for the delay.
“We had given an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that there should be re-verification of 20% included names in the districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% in the rest of the districts,” Patowary told the Assembly. “We need a re-verification because people of Assam want a correct NRC.”
In July last year, the Assam government and the Centre petitioned the Supreme Court for such a re-verification exercise, but it was dismissed by the apex court after Hajela submitted that re-verification of 27% names was already done.
The Supreme Court had mentioned the prospect of sample re-verification in an order in 2018, saying that the court could consider re-verifying 10% of the names included in the second draft of the NRC.
“The Supreme Court had earlier mentioned a re-verification but the former NRC coordinator [Hajela] did not work properly. I’m not talking against anyone, but yes the former coordinator of the NRC did not work properly,” Patowary said.
Hajela, who had led the NRC exercise since 2013, was transferred out of Assam in October 2019 by the Supreme Court. He had come under criticism from the state government prior to the transfer.
In a written reply to the Assembly on Monday, the state government provided the latest data regarding ‘foreigner’ detection in the state. The reply said that 1,36,149 people have been declared ‘foreigners’ by the state’s 100 functioning Foreigners’ Tribunals, whereas only 227 ‘foreigners’ have been deported from March 13, 2013, to July 31, 2020.
A total of 425 people are currently lodged in the six detention centres in the state.
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