June 29, 2018 3:08:35 am
The final draft of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) will not be published on June 30, as scheduled, and the next date will be finalised only after a Supreme Court hearing on July 2, NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela confirmed on Thursday.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Hajela said, “The publication of the final draft of the NRC will not happen on June 30. I will seek a fresh date from the Supreme Court on July 2, the date of the next hearing.”
The deadline for preparing the final draft was set by the Supreme Court — which is monitoring the exercise — as June 30. The first draft — that verified 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore who applied as legal citizens of India — was published on the midnight of January 1.
The NRC is the register containing names of Indian citizens and is an attempt to identify illegal immigrants in Assam. An NRC was prepared in 1951 and it is now being “updated to include the names of those persons (or their descendants) who appear in the 1951 NRC or in any of the electoral rolls or in any one of the other admissible documents issued up to midnight of March 24, 1971, which would prove their presence in Assam or in any part of India on or before March 24, 1971”.
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Hajela explained that the next date for publication of the final draft cannot be speculated on because it will depend on what the apex court says.
Earlier this month, as flood wreaked havoc in the state, around 70 NRC Seva Kendras were affected for over a week in the districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi.
There are speculations regarding how many people will be left out of the NRC. Government sources peg the number at 50,000, while some activists say it will be in lakhs.
“Every figure is speculative. I am not giving out any figures,” Hajela said.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, meanwhile, told PTI on Thursday, “Names of all genuine Indian citizens will be included in the final draft. There should be no apprehension over it.”
NRC authorities have also started publicity and community awareness campaigns to counter misinformation — these include street plays and distributing leaflets, among others.
“Public needs to be given the correct information and we will do that with the means we have,” Hajela said.
Meanwhile, the state’s security establishment has geared up to counter any eventuality arising at the time of publication of the final draft. It has demanded additional deployment of security forces from the Centre, said officers. Assam DGP Kuladhar Saikia told The Indian Express, “It’s expected that no law and order situation will arise during the process, but if anybody tries to take the law into their hands, they will be tackled very seriously as per law.”
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