With the Assam government releasing the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) list on Saturday (31 August), those who found their names excluded might well find themselves concerned.
But take heart: No one can be labelled an illegal migrant or a non-citizen just because their names are excluded from the list. The right to pass a verdict on someone's citizenship only lies within the ambit of Foreigners Tribunals, a quasi-judicial body especially set up to solve matters of dubious citizenship.
It is this body that residents should approach to dispute the exclusion of their names from the NRC. Those excluded from the final NRC list can even approach the Gauhati High Court or even the Supreme Court in case they are unsatisfied with the response of the Foreigners Tribunals.
The state police on Thursday appealed to the public not to believe in rumours as some elements were trying to create confusion. "The government has ensured adequate safeguards for people, whose name may not appear in the final NRC," it said.
The force also issued a five-point advisory stating that persons whose names are not in the NRC will not be declared foreigners and can file an appeal to the Foreigners Tribunals as per the direction of the Union Home Ministry.
The time limit for doing so has been increased from 60 days to 120 days and the government will provide legal aid through the district legal service authority to the needy so that they can pursue their cases in Foreigners Tribunals and in higher courts.
Besides, the number of Foreigners Tribunals have been increased and are being set up at convenient locations.
"The fact that the extension of filing an appeal from 60 days to 120 days to the FT, will help all excluded persons to enjoy a level playing field", Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said, adding, "Nobody will be subjected to any unnecessary harassment."
The home ministry had planned to set up a total of 1,000 Foreigners Tribunals in phases. For now, 100 Foreigners Tribunals are functioning in the state.
Sonowal on 23 August reviewed the law and order situation with the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police where he directed them to maintain close relations with the influential persons and opinion makers to ensure that there is no misunderstanding among the people about the NRC process.
Appealing to the people to maintain peace, the chief minister said, "A government is there in Assam to look after people's interest. All are living here with unity and honour ... We are confident that all sections of society will come forward to maintain peace and tranquility for all times to come".
Additional Chief Secretary (Home Political) Kumar Sanjay Krishna said the process to set up 200 such tribunals is ongoing and 200 more will be set up soon for the benefit of the excluded people.
"The tribunals will be established in convenient locations to ensure that filing and hearing of appeals is smooth and efficient," said Krishna.
"People left out of the final NRC can first approach the Foreigners Tribunals and subsequently move higher courts if not satisfied with the FT ruling," he said.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Aug 31, 2019 13:25:41 IST