At midnight Sunday, Assam is all set to see a part of the first draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a massive exercise that intends to enlist all Indian citizens living in Assam. While those registering themselves for an SMS service will get information about the NRC immediately after midnight, NRC Sewa Kendras across the state will display hard copies from 8 am on January 1.
The government has made elaborate security arrangements in view of inputs about some groups trying to foment trouble once the draft NRC is released. About 45,000 security personnel including Assam Police and 50 companies of central forces have been deployed, and the Army has been asked to be on standby.
NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela, a senior IAS officer of the rank of commissioner, said, “This is a part of the first draft NRC to be published within the deadline fixed by the Supreme Court, and we have made elaborate arrangements for the public to see the NRC and find out whether their names have found place or not. We have also told the people that this is only the first part draft, and names of all the people who had applied may not be there because the verification process has not been completed.”
While over 68 lakh families covering more than 3.35 crore people had applied for inclusion in the NRC, the authorities have so far verified close to 2 crore names which will find place in the first draft. “I will not reveal the exact number because that might lead to speculation,” Hajela said.
Updation of the NRC in Assam — earlier prepared way back in 1951 in the wake of post-Partition trans-border migration — is being carried out under direct monitoring of the Supreme Court after the Centre, state government and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) agreed at a tripartite meeting on May 5, 2005, to take this up to detect illegal Bangladeshi migrants in the state.
“Citizens can see the draft NRC on four websites that we have publicised through newspaper, television and radio advertisements, and also visit NRC Sewa Kendras in their respective villages (wards in towns and cities) to see the hard copy. We have also introduced an SMS service through which people can register themselves by sending us their respective Application Registration Numbers,” Hajela said.
Hajela said that verification reports of a sizeable number of documents had not yet returned to the NRC state office, hence the names of all members of a given family might not appear in the first draft. “Members of the same family may have submitted documents like birth certificates, PAN card, passports and high school certificates that were issued by different authorities located at different places. While those were dispatched to different issuing authorities, all of them may not have come back,” he said.
Assam DGP Mukesh Sahay said that security has been beefed up and additional forces deployed in “sensitive areas” in order to tackle any situation arising out of rumours. “Though there is no scope of any problem because what is coming out is only the first part draft of the NRC, we are not taking chances,” Sahay said.
While authorities had taken up applications of about 2.38 crore in the first phase that ends Sunday, verification of about 76 lakh people will be taken up from January 1, along with those whose verification could not be completed within December 31, Hajela said.