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Over to Foreigners' Tribunals Now as More Than 19 Lakh People in Assam Stare at Statelessness After NRC Exclusion

The Assam government has already ruled out detention of people who do not figure in the list 'in any circumstances' till the time Foreigners Tribunals declare them foreigners.

News18.com

Updated:August 31, 2019, 6:10 PM IST
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Over to Foreigners' Tribunals Now as More Than 19 Lakh People in Assam Stare at Statelessness After NRC Exclusion
News18 Creative/Mir Suhail
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Guwahati: The updated final NRC, which validates bonafide Indian citizens of Assam, was out on Saturday, with over 19 lakh applicants who failed to make it to the list staring at an uncertain future.

A total of 3,30,27,661 people had applied to be included in the NRC. Of them, 3,11,21,004 have been included in the document and 19,06,657 excluded, a statement from the NRC State Coordinator's office said here. Those who have been excluded from the National Register of Citizens have 120 days to appeal against it at Foreigners Tribunals.

The Assam government has already ruled out detention of people who do not figure in the list "in any circumstances" till the time Foreigners Tribunals declare them foreigners. The final list was published at 10 am and the hard copies of the Supplementary List of Inclusions are available for public viewing at the NRC Seva Kendras (NSK), offices of the deputy commissioner and offices of the Circle Officer during office hours, a statement by the NRC authority said.

Hundreds of people began thronging these offices soon after the list was released, with some returning home happy and some disappointed. The ruling BJP and opposition Congress, besides the All Assam Students Union said they were dissatisfied with the final citizenship roll. Ramen Deka, a former BJP MP from Mangaldoi, said a large number of illegal Muslim migrants from Bangladesh had made the cut, while many indigenous people were left out.

"We are not at all happy. A large number of Bangladeshi Muslims have been enlisted, while genuine Indian citizens have been left out. The exercise was conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Court but the document is not up to the mark," he said.

Abdul Khaleque, the Congress lawmaker from Barpeta, said he was "not fully satisfied". "A lot of genuine names have been excluded," he said. The All Assam Students Union (AASU), which spearheaded the 6-year movement that culminated in the signing of the Assam Accord of 1985, also said it was not happy with the final NRC and will appeal against it in the Supreme Court.

One of the clauses of the accord was "detection, deletion and deportation" of illegal Bangladeshi migrants. "We are not happy at all. It seems there were some deficiencies in the updatation process. We believe that it is an incomplete NRC. We will appeal to the Supreme Court to remove all the faults and descrepancies in this NRC," AASU General Secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said.

Addressing a press conference, Gogoi said the final figure of exclusion did not even come close to the figures officially announced by authorities on various occasions.

Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is also the convener of the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), the NDA's version in the northeast, deplored that many people who came to India as refugees before 1971 were not included in the final citizenship roll.

He demanded that the Supreme Court allow reverification of at least 20 per cent of people included in the list in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10 per cent in the rest of Assam.

"Names of many Indian citizens who migrated from Bangladesh as refugees prior to 1971 have not been included in the NRC because authorities refused to accept refugee certificates. Many names got included because of manipulation of legacy data as alleged by many," he tweeted.

The Assam Public Works (APW), the original petitioner in the Supreme Court which led to the NRC updation, called the final NRC a "flawed document". It said the citizenship roll could not become error-free because the apex court had turned down its demand for reverification.

"The Final NRC has made it obvious that the problem of illegal immigration will never be resolved in Assam. If this NRC had been completed flawlessly, it would have gone down as a golden chapter in Assam's history," APW president Aabhijeet Sharma said.

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