NRC: State determining fate of lakhs of applicants as Assam govt is sending documents for verification

Report by: 
Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay
4 Jan 2018

While, after the publication of the first draft of updated version of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, chief minister Mamata Banerrjee has launched a vitriolic attack on the ruling BJP at the Centre of hatching a conspiracy to drive out Bengalis from that state, the home department of her government is working overtime to determine the fate of lakhs of applicants from Assam who placed documents to claim that they had been in West Bengal before March 24, 1971, the cut-off date for determination of nationality of the citizens in Assam.
Since mid-2016 the Assam government has sent documents of 1,48,900 lakh applicants to the West Bengal government and out of that documents of only about 8,000 applicants have been sorted out and sent back to Assam. About 50,000 documents are lying with various DMs.  And there had been quite a few whose claims had proved false. Incidentally more documents are pouring in, according to officials. ``We have been working religiously to verify the claims of the people that before going to Assam they had been residing in West Bengal before 1971. They have submitted various documents in support of their demand and we have sent them to concerned authorities for verification. It's a long and tedious job. We are awfully short-staffed with just three people and we have requested for four more people for the job,'' an official of the state home department told the Echo of India.
It was in 1985 that the Rajiv Gandhi-led Union government signed an agreement with the All Assam Students Union, spearheading a movement for driving out Bangladeshies  illegally residing in Assam that those who came to Assam after March 24, 1971 would be deported from the state. Following a case filed by Assam Public Works, an NGO, in 2009, the Supreme Court fixed December 31, 2017 as the date for publishing  the first draft of NRC. Out of 3.29 crore applicants, only the names 1.9 crore people have found place in the first draft. The Assam government said there would be two more lists and after that those who would not find their names would be deprived of their constitutional rights. While today the Assam police has registered a case against Mamata for her criticism of the BJP for allegedly trying to drive Bengalis out of Assam, the Trinamool Congress seemed to be unfazed. ``Nobody can stifle the voice of our chief minister who will always uphold the cause of hapless people,'' Partha Chatterjee, state minister for education and TMC secretary general said.