Two years of Assam NRC: Uncertainty looms over 19 lakh applicants for re-verification process

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, when asked about the concerns over the NRC draft, simply stated that 'the matter is pending in the Supreme Court and I will not like to comment on it'

Press Trust of India August 31, 2021 17:15:52 IST
Two years of Assam NRC: Uncertainty looms over 19 lakh applicants for re-verification process

Representational image of an NRC Seva Kendra in Assam. Firstpost/Manash Das

Guwahati: Two years have gone by since the final draft of NRC was published on this day in Assam, leaving out over 19 lakh applicants, all efforts to overhaul the list, amid cries that genuine names were excluded, have only hit the wall with demands for re-verification of the document still pending before the Supreme Court.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) — prepared in accordance with Assam Accord provisions — catalogues names of the "genuine citizens" of the country. The initial document was made way back in 1951, based on the data of Independent India's first census.

The ones, who did not find a place in the updated list, have since been running from pillar to post, trying to figure out how to get their names enlisted, as uncertainty looms over their future. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, when asked about the concerns over the NRC draft, simply stated that "the matter is pending in the Supreme Court and I will not like to comment on it".

Sarma, on assuming office on May 10, had, however, said that his government wants 20 per cent verification of the names in the border districts and 10 percent in the remaining districts.

"If the error found is very negligible, we can proceed with the existing NRC. If huge anomalies are found during re-verification, I hope the court will take note of this and do the needful with a new perspective," he had said back then.

Several stakeholders claimed that the Supreme Court-monitored exercise carried out to update the list was a "faulty one", following which aggrieved individuals were told to approach foreigner tribunals set up for the purpose.

However, the rejection slips required to approach the tribunals have not been issued yet. Also, the Registrar General of India is yet to publish the final draft.

State NRC Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma, who is currently undergoing COVID-19 treatment in a hospital, had filed an interlocutory application in the Supreme Court in May this year, seeking a time-bound re-verification of the list as "there were major irregularities in the process".

The Assam Public Works (APW), the original petitioner in the Supreme Court for NRC update, also raised a similar demand, holding the former state coordinator Prateek Hajela responsible for the "anomalies".

"We have filed eight affidavits — six before the publication of the draft and two seeking re-verification of the list — but there has been no hearing in the Supreme Court on the matter since January 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the president of the NGO, Aabhijeet Sarma, told PTI.

He further sought to know why no action was taken by the state government against Hajela for the "large-scale financial irregularities that were involved in the process".

"We lodged ten complaints with the CBI and the CID alleging huge misappropriation of funds meant for updating the NRC. If the government was really interested in unravelling the truth, they could have taken necessary steps," he asserted. The APW may approach the Gauhati High Court on the issue, he added.

Sarma, on his part, said approximately Rs 1,600 crore was released by the Centre, and "we have requested an inquiry into the whole process of funds utilisation". Congress Lok Sabha MP Abdul Khaleque told .

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