New Delhi: In the first big exercise to identify illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in Assam, the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was released in Guwahati on Saturday, which excluded the names of over 19 lakh applicants from over 3 crore who had applied, rendering them ‘foreigners’ in India.
A total of 3,30,27,661 people had applied to be included in the NRC, of which 19,06,657 names have been excluded, a statement from the NRC State Coordinator's office, reports news agency PTI. The status of both inclusion and exclusion can be viewed online in the NRC website, www.nrcassam.nic.in.
As tension and anxiety was palpable in the state, the All Assam Students' Union (AASU), in a press conference in Guwahati, said it was not happy with the exclusion figure in the final NRC list and would appeal against it in the Supreme Court.
Incidentally, AASU is a signatory to the Assam Accord, a 1985 document that provided for "detection, deletion and deportation" of illegal foreigners from Assam.
"We are not happy at all. It seems there were some deficiencies in the updation process. We believe that it is an incomplete NRC. We will appeal to the Supreme Court to remove all the faults and discrepancies in this NRC," AASU General Secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said, as per a PTI report.
Gogoi said the final figure of exclusion did not reach near the figures officially announced by the authorities on various occasions.
Meanwhile, tension was simmering in Assam as the August 31 deadline for the final NRC list neared, with many families anxious about some of their members being declared ‘stateless’. Many poor people had to make repeated visits to various tribunals, some located far away, to submit their documents, even as the state was deluged by floods.
Assam chief minister Sarbanand Sonowal, who is heading a BJP-led government in the state, had announced on Friday that any person who is not satisfied with the outcome could file appeal before the Foreigners Tribunals (FT) within 120 days. He had also assured those left out from the NRC list that they would not be detained till the FTs declare them foreigners.
The process of NRC updation started in the state following an order of the Supreme Court in 2013. Since then, the country’s highest court has been closely monitoring the entire process.
Assam, which has faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.
Assam NRC: A Timeline
1950: Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act comes into force following influx of refugees from then East Pakistan to Assam after partition.
1951: First Census of Independent India conducted. Based on Census, first NRC compiled.
1957: Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act repealed.
1964-1965: Influx of refugees from East Pakistan due to disturbances in that country.
1971: Fresh influx due to riot and war in East Pakistan. Independence Bangladesh comes into existence.
1979-1985: Six-year-long Assam agitation, spearheaded by the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) for detection, disenfranchisement and deportation of foreigners.
1983: Massacre at Nellie in Central Assam which claimed the lives of over 3,000 people. Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act passed.
1985: Assam Accord signed by the Centre, the state, AASU and AAGSP in the presence of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. It stated, among other clauses, that foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971 shall be expelled.
1997: Election Commission decides to add 'D' (doubtful) against names of voters whose claim to Indian citizenship is doubtful.
2005: Supreme Court strikes down IMDT Act as unconstitutional. Tripartite meeting among Centre, state government and AASU decides to update 1951 NRC. But no major development takes place.
2009: Assam Public Works (APW), an NGO, files case in Supreme Court praying for deletion of foreigners's name in electoral rolls and updation of NRC.
2010: Pilot project starts in Chaygaon, Barpeta to update NRC. Project successful in Chaygaon. Four killed in violence in Barpeta. Project shelved.
2013: Supreme Court takes up APW petition, directs Centre, state to begin the process for updating NRC. NRC State Coordinator's office set up.
2015: Updation of NRC process begins.
2017: On December 31 midnight, Draft NRC published with names of 1.9 crore of total 3.29 crore applicants.
July 30, 2018: Another Draft NRC published, 40 lakh of 2.9 crore people excluded.
June 26, 2019: Publication of Additional Draft Exclusion List of 1,02,462 released.
August 31, 2019: Final NRC released.
(inputs from PTI)