In what may trigger a fresh churning in the state of Assam, a letter has been issued by the state coordinator of the NRC, Hitesh Dev Sarma, to the Deputy Commissioner and District Register of Citizen Registration (DRCR) for all districts, asking to provide the details of “ineligible persons” whose names were included in the final publication of NRC.
“The matter is of utmost importance as the details have to be reported to the Registrar General of India urgently,” News 18 reported the letter as stating.
The notice mentioned that it has come to the knowledge that few names of ineligible persons, particularly “doubtful voters”, “declared foreigner”, such persons “with cases pending in Foreigners’ Tribunal” and “descendants” of such individuals are “found present in the final NRC”, published on August 31, 2019.
As such, the letter dated February 19, 2020, demands sharing of the details of ineligible persons found in the NRC, as reported by News 18.
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In addition to this, The Sentinel reported that the letter also states that a list of such persons has already been shared by the Deputy Commissioners earlier.
With around 3.29 crore applicants, the NRC exercise in Assam has been rife with controversies. The final list, published last year in August, excluded 19 lakh people, marking them as “outsiders”.
The letter comes after the Supreme Court has already rejected the state government's demand to reopen and re-verify NRC. It has already been reported how Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is upset with the final list of the NRC – which has potentially killed the “infiltrator in Assam” campaign of the BJP that played a major role in the party winning the 2016 Assam Assembly elections.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU)—signatory to the 1985 Assam Accord that provided for “detection, deletion and deportation” of illegal foreigners from the state—was also reportedly unhappy with the figure of exclusions in the final NRC.
The timing of the letter also raises concern as people who have applied for the citizenship test are currently unable to check their status on the official NRC website. The record of the final list of citizens in Assam disappeared from the official website earlier in February this year as it was reported that the contract of the Wipro–IT major which looks after online data–was not renewed after its expiration in October last year.
In another development, thousands of Assam government officials engaged in NRC were released on Tuesday on "various grounds like superannuation or transfer with the promotion,” reported News 18.
Clause 6 Committee Report to Be Received by CM
Meanwhile, it has been reported that the Assam Clause 6 Committee report may be submitted to the Chief Minister of Assam, as opposed to the previous proposal of being received by the Ministry of Home Affairs on behalf of Government of India. Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, the government was to protect the identity, language, culture and representation of the people of Assam. Highlighting the contentions arising over the report, SabrangIndia reported that it was not even signed by Home Secretary of GoI, Satyendra Garg, who is member secretary of the committee.
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The committee has reportedly recommended a 1951 cut-off date to define “Assamese” people, and has also suggested an Inner Line Permit regime for the state. The union joint Home Secretary, Satyendra Garg had advised the committee to change the line "Union Government will take proper steps to reconciliation of Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulations 1873 in Assam" to "Union Government may take proper steps to reconciliation of Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulations 1873 in Assam". This had led to several rounds of meetings in the absence of Satyendra Garg, following which the unsigned report was submitted to the Assam Accord implementation Department on February 19, 2020.
However, the MHA did not welcome the high-powered committee’s recommendations. The Indian Express had quoted an MHA source as saying, “We are told the cut-off date they have set for defining Assamese is pre-1951 NRC. This means if we accept it, we will have to conduct another NRC in Assam. Also, we are not yet in favour of granting the ILP to Assam.”