GUWAHATI, Dec 30 - After years of wait, the stage is set for publication of the first list of the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) tomorrow. However, the first draft will only contain names of those whose document verification process has been completed and it will not contain photos of Indian citizens living in the State.
The complete draft, to be published after the completion of the verification process of all those who had applied for inclusion of their names in the NRC, will contain names of all genuine Indian citizens living in Assam along with their photographs.
The issue of updating the NRC of 1951 had first come to the limelight when the All Assam Students� Union (AASU) submitted a memorandum to the Government of India on January 18, 1980, at the initial stage of the Assam Movement, and then again, the issue was mentioned in a memorandum submitted during a discussion with the then Prime Minister in February in the same year. After the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985, the AASU submitted a draft of the modalities for updating the NRC in 1990. But the matter did not get priority from successive governments.
On November 17, 1999, a decision was taken in an official-level tripartite meeting to review the implementation of the Assam Accord that the NRC would be updated and the Centre also sanctioned Rs 20 lakh for the purpose and released an amount of Rs 5 lakh to start of the work. But again, the State government failed to get the work started.
Finally, the decision to update the NRC was taken at the highest level on May 5, 2005 when the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh chaired a meeting to review the implementation of the Accord. In that meeting, it was decided that the work would be completed within two years and identity cards would be issued to genuine Indian citizens living in Assam on the basis of the updated NRC. Immediately thereafter, the government created a directorate for updating the NRC and the process of computerisation of the NRC of 1951 and the voters� lists up to 1971 started. But the government failed to formulate the modalities for updating the citizenship document and the process slowed down yet again.
The process resumed in 2010 following a tripartite talk chaired by the then Union Home Secretary GK Pillai and it was decided that a pilot project would be launched in two revenue circles in the State � Barpeta and Chaygaon. But, the process was suspended again after a violent protest by some organisations in Barpeta, following which the State government formed a group of ministers (GoM) to hold talks with different organisations to redraft the modalities.
The GoM was first chaired by Dr Bhumidhar Barman and then by Prithibi Majhi. However, the process of updating the NRC gained momentum only after the Supreme Court started monitoring the progress and the first draft will be published tomorrow as per the directive of the court.
The date for publication of the complete draft is likely to be finalised in the next hearing of the case by the Supreme Court on February 20.
The office of the State Coordinator for updating the NRC has made elaborate arrangements for the benefit of the people to check their names in the first draft. The draft will be made available online and the same will also be available in the NRC Sewa Kendras all over the State from 8 am of January 1. The citizens will also be able to get information through SMS service.
Meanwhile, the State Coordinator for NRC, Prateek Hajela has made it clear that no genuine Indian citizen should be worried if his or her name does not appear in the first draft as the verification process is yet to be completed. �If the name of any genuine Indian citizen does not appear in the first draft, it means the verification process of the person is yet to be completed. Even after the publication of the final draft, enough scope will be given for filing of claims and objections,� he added.