NRC first draft names 1.9 crore 'legal' citizens: Situation in Assam edgy as officials work to release final registry

The initial part draft of the much-awaited and contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC) was released in Assam on Sunday midnight amid tight security. The first draft listed names of 1.9 crore people in the state as "legal" out of a total 3.29 crore applicants, while the rest await further verification.

The government mobilised 85 companies of paramilitary troops and multiple groups of state police were deployed in sensitive areas of the border state as the Registrar General of India (RGI) published the list, which it says will be used to check illegal immigration from neighbouring Bangladesh.

People queue outside an NRC Seva Kendra in Guwahati to check their names in the NRC draft. PTI

People queue outside an NRC Seva Kendra in Guwahati to check their names in the NRC draft. PTI

Director general of police Mukesh Sahay told Firstpost on Monday that security arrangements turned out to be adequate, and no "incident of concern" was reported from anywhere in the state. "We are still watchful as the whole process is far from over. We cannot afford to lower our guard yet," Sahay said.

"All stakeholders — the central and state governments, the chief minister, the RGI, security and intelligence agencies — have all been consistently working in tandem to regulate the situation, so we hope to keep this going," he said.

Speaking to Firstpost, state coordinator for NRC in Assam, Prateek Hajela, said that the first day after the draft release has gone well. "The people are largely satisfied, and more importantly, we have been able to abide by the Supreme Court order to release the part draft by the midnight of 31 December," he said.

The status of inclusion of names can be checked in the websites: www.nrcassam.nic.in, www.assam.gov.in, www.assam.mygov.in and www.homeandpolitical.assam.gov.in, the office of the state coordinator of national registration (NRC) posted on its official Twitter page.

When asked about reports that said the websites developed glitches through the day, Hajela said the websites did slow down, but did not crash. "There are nine links on the official website. We have already registered around 1.5 crore hits within 24 hours, which is a very, very heavy load. But our servers are still active," he said.

Residents could also find out draft details through SMS. "On Sunday night, we sent out around 1 lakh SMS texts to people pre-registered in the NRC database. Additionally, we have sent out 4 lakh on-demand SMS texts until 8 pm on Monday," Hajela said.

Hajela, the chief state government official in charge of the NRC, said that it would have been ideal to release the complete draft with all entries at once. "But we have done our best to release all names that we could dispose of and were found to be eligible for inclusion until 31 December," he said.

Around 80,000 troops were on the ground on Monday across the state. "The state government has deployed around 40,000 personnel, while other paramilitary forces have also engaged a similar number," DGP Sahay said.

He said that the police kept a close watch on social media platforms to prevent rumours and misinformation from spreading. "We have been closely observing these spaces. We have set right those who were trying to create mischief," he added.

The exercise could lead to communal tensions in Assam, which has the second highest percentage of Muslims of any Indian state. "The NRC is being done to identify illegal Bangladeshis residing in Assam," Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam's finance minister, who is also in charge of the citizenship register, had said earlier. "All those whose names do not figure in the NRC will have to be deported. We're taking no chances and hence all security measures have been taken," Sarma said.

However, Hajela said there is no need for anyone to panic, and that the remaining names are in various stages of verification. "I would appeal to those who have not found their names in this list to bear with us for some more time. They do not have to do anything; if there's anything they are required to do, we will contact them. Our officers are working day and night," he said.

"The entire process is a statutory exercise carried out in compliance of and in accordance with the provisions of law. Moreover, the highest court of the land itself is independently and closely monitoring the situation. So there is no reason for people to panic," a senior official in the Assam government told Firstpost.

The state police chief and the NRC coordinator also thanked the state's residents for their cooperation. "I would like to place on record my thanks and gratitude to the people of Assam whose support and blessings have helped us achieve such a mammoth task. I also commend the work of officials and security personnel at work today," the official added.

Hajela said, "I thank the people of Assam for their cooperation in this extremely ambitious task. Such an exercise has not been undertaken anywhere in the country — I can safely say that — and maybe in the world."


Updated Date: Jan 02, 2018 09:23 AM

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