Assam: Final NRC list out, over 19 lakh left out
The final National Register of Citizens (NRC) list released at 10 AM today, four years after the gargantuan process to disenfranchise illegal Bangladeshi immigrants started. The authorities received 3.3 crore applicants, out of which 3.11 crore were included. According to reports, 19,06,657 were excluded. In July 2018 final draft, names of over 40 lakh people were missing. You can check the list here: http://www.nrcassam.nic.in/
In case you are unaware, here's what NRC actually means
With a motive to enumerate citizens, the NRC first came into being in 1951. This is the first time it's being updated, that too only for Assam which houses roughly 33 million people. For a person to be included in today's list, he/she was mandated to prove links with family members having their names in the original list, or in electoral rolls till March 25, 1971.
Not political parties, but SC is monitoring the process
The process also has political undertones with critics of Centre saying NRC updation is being carried out to alienate minorities, especially Muslims. But facts show that isn't the case. The process got mileage in 2013 when the Supreme Court ordered that the list should be updated. In 2015, the actual procedure started and in July '19 the court announced a deadline of August 31.
Over 40 lakh were excluded, lakhs challenged the decision
Over time, the authorities received 3.29 crore applicants. The final draft included 2.89 crore people, leaving out more than 40 lakh applicants. Out of them, more than 36 lakh filed claims. The final list also includes around 3.8 lakh people who didn't file claims.
Will an "excluded person" be declared a foreigner?
No, not instantly. The government has reiterated that those left out from the list will not be declared "foreigners" or sent to "detention camps" until all legal options are exhausted. The applicants can challenge the decision in Foreign Tribunals (FTs), more of which are being set up. If this doesn't get them favorable results, they can approach civil courts. Government has promised legal aid.
Time limit for filing appeals has been increased
The window to challenge exclusion in NRC list was increased from 60 to 120 days by the government. As of July, the tribunals had declared 117,164 as foreigners, and 1,145 were sent to detention. Reportedly, till now four people have been repatriated. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal confirmed that as long as the application is sub-judice, a person will not be declared as "foreigner".
218 companies of additional security forces have been deployed
To note, the climax of the massive NRC process comes barely days after Centre's historic Kashmir move. Just like the northernmost state, the government isn't willing to take any risk in Assam. Assam DGP Kuladhar Saikia confirmed a total of 218 companies of additional security forces have been deployed and authorities are keeping an eye out for "problematic" social media posts too.
The question is: Will everything be peaceful?
"We have taken a three-pronged strategy: first, community outreach, second, deployment of forces and third, sensitivity assessment. We do not foresee any vigilante violence - people will understand that there is a mechanism for them to appeal," Saikia told Indian Express.