4 million names left out in NRC final draft; month’s window to establish bona fides

Report by: 
NIRMALYA BANERJEE
Kolkata
30 Jul 2018

The possible situation in Assam after the publication of the National Register of Citizens has often been compared with the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.
Now after the publication of the final draft of the NRC on Monday, there are some figures to compare between the two. In Myanmar, there are an estimated one million Rohingya population out of which more than 600,000 have taken shelter in Bangladesh as refugees.
In the final draft of the NRC, four million names have been left out, of which 3.7 million applications have been rejected. To be exact, a total of 40,07,707 names of people living in Assam do not figure in the final draft; out of these, about 248,000 names are “under consideration.” They have either been listed as ‘D’ voters or their cases are already under the examination of the Foreigners Tribunals.
The 37,79,000 – odd people whose applications have been rejected would get a short window to establish their bona fides as Indian citizen. Talking to a Guwahati-based television channel, NRC co-ordinator Prateek Hajela said they would be able to submit their claims between August 30 and September 28. From August 7 onwards, they would be able to visit different NRC centres to find out why their names would be rejected. The claim form, which could be downloaded, was almost similar to the original application form.
The final NRC would be published under the directive of the Supreme Court, he said. There were still many people who had not applied for inclusion of their names in the NRC. No fresh application would be entertained now; they would have to wait till the current process of updating the NRC was complete. There were a total of 32.9 million applicants; out of these about 28.9 million names were included in the final draft.
A leader of All Assam Minority Students Union told a television channel that many names, particularly of women, had been left out as documents from panchayats furnished by them had been rejected by the NRC authorities. “If these cases are sorted out, the list of rejected names would be shortened by half,” he said. A man complained that the names of his wife and son had found a place in the NRC, but not his. A woman in Hojai said her son’s name had appeared in the list but not hers, though she was a panchayat functionary. She was not worried, however; said it would be regularized in the process of claims.
Anxious people visited the NRC centres, particularly in minority-dominated areas like Hojai and scrutinized the list in search of names. Among the districts, in Udalguri, out of about 876,000 applicants, names of about 127,000 people were left out. In minority-dominated Karimganj more than 90 per cent of the applicants had their names included in the final draft, while in Cachar more than 200,000 names were left out.
There were complaints that officials in charge of scrutinizing papers had arbitrarily rejected panchayat documents. Minority leaders said for people living in Assam since before March 25, 1971, the cut-off date, and their names getting left out, they would approach the apex court. There were many cases where family trees had matched, but names had been left out because of rejection of panchayat documents or school certificates, they said.
While former Assam chief minister Prafulla Mahanta said the updating of the NRC would be one step forward in fulfilling the promises made in the Assam accord, it was time for distribution of sweets at the All Assam Students Union head office near Uzan Bazar in Guwahati. AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya described the final draft of the NRC as a “historic document.” Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal urged people not to panic if their names did not appear in NRC draft as genuine Indian citizens would get "full opportunity" to make claims and objections.