GUWAHATI, Aug 30 - As publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) completes one year tomorrow, the Central and State governments are yet to clarify their stand on the citizenship document, while the process of issuing rejection slips to those whose applications for inclusion of their names in the NRC were rejected has also not started. The 200 proposed foreigners tribunals (FTs) for hearing petitions of those whose applications were rejected have also not started functioning as yet.
Applications of more than 19 lakh persons for inclusion of names in the NRC were rejected as they failed to provide adequate proof of citizenship and their fate hangs in balance. Though the process of issuing rejection slips to those people by the NRC authorities was scheduled to start early this year, the process was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Such people can approach the FTs only after getting the rejection slips. The list of those whose names were not included in the NRC includes around four lakh people, who did not file claims after the publication of draft NRC, and the government has also not clarified its position on the fate of those people.
The much awaited NRC was prepared after years of demands and agitations. Immediately after the Assam Agitation started, the AASU submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister on February 2, 1980 demanding that the NRC of 1951 should be updated.
The AASU reiterated the demand again in 1990 in a memorandum to the Central government. In 1999, in an official level talk on the implementation of the Assam Accord, it was decided that the NRC would be updated and the Centre agreed to pay Rs 20 lakh for the same immediately. But the government failed to start the process. A tripartite talk on the implementation of the Assam Accord was held on May 5, 2005, under the chairmanship of the then Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, where it was decided that the NRC would be prepared within a time frame of two years and the State government created a �Directorate of NRC�. But the process did not get off the ground.
In 2010, the Centre decided to start a pilot project in two revenue circles � Chhaygaon and Barpeta, but it was suspended following violent protests by a section of people in Barpeta. Following the incident, a group of ministers was formed to formulate modalities, while the AASU and 29 organisations representing different ethnic groups of the State joined hands to hold talks with the government on the modalities.
The process again resumed with the appointment of a State Coordinator for NRC in 2013 and the process gained momentum after the Supreme Court started monitoring the process. The partial draft of the NRC was published on December 31, 2017 and the final draft was published on July 30, 2018 leaving out the names of 40 lakh people. The final NRC was published on August 31 last year after hearing of the claims and objections.
However, different organisations expressed their reservation on the number of persons whose names were not included as they feel that the actual number of foreigners living in Assam should have been much more than 19 lakh. Commenting on the issue, AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said, �We are not rejecting the NRC as the process was monitored by the Supreme Court. But we have reservation on the number of rejections. The government should take remedial measures for corrections.�
The AASU has also filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking remedial measures to make corrections in the NRC. At the same time, the student body alleged that the BJP-led government was trying to sabotage the NRC to bring in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.