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To Stop Migration of Assam’s New 40 Lakh ‘Illegals’, Centre May Track Movement With Biometrics

Attorney General KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court that some states have fears that people whose name has not found mention in the second and final draft NRC will look to migrate.

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Updated:August 1, 2018, 7:00 AM IST
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To Stop Migration of Assam’s New 40 Lakh ‘Illegals’, Centre May Track Movement With Biometrics
People check their names on the final draft of the National Register of Citizens at a NRC Seva Kendra in Nagaon, Assam, on Monday. (PTI Photo)
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New Delhi: The central government is considering taking biometrics details of over 40 lakh people whose names did not figure in the final NRC draft list in Assam in order to stop them from migrating to other states using false identity.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that some state governments have raised fears that people who risk losing their citizenship could cross over the state boundaries to escape over fears that they may be put into detention camps.

"To allay the fear of states, the government is contemplating to collect biometric data of over 40 lakh people, so that if declared foreigners escapes to another state under a false identity then they may be tracked by authorities concerned," Venugopal was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

To this, a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman said the government is free to do whatever it wants for the time being and the court will examine the actions a later date. "You do whatever you like. At this moment, we would not like to comment. You do it, then we will examine it. Our silence is not a symbol of agreement nor assurance," the bench said.

The decision to retroactively strip more than 40 lakh of Assam's residents of citizenship has the potential to create the largest stateless population in the whole world, paving the way for one of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.

The top court on Tuesday made it clear that the government cannot take any coercive action against the over 40 lakhs persons, who were excluded from the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam, as it was merely a draft and not the final list.

It has asked the Centre to formulate modalities and Standard Operating Procedures, including timelines for deciding the claims and objections arising out of the publication of the draft NRC.

The bench asked the Centre to submit the modalities and SOPs before it for approval within August 16.

The second and final draft of the NRC, which is a list of the state's citizens, was published on Monday with over 2.89 crore names out of 3.29 crore applicants in Assam. Names of around 40.07 lakh applicants did not figure in the document.

The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published in December end as per the top court's direction. It was published on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 where names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated.

Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC, which was first prepared in 1951.

The top court, which is monitoring the NRC work, had earlier said that the claims of those citizens, whose names do not figure in the draft NRC for Assam published by December 31 last year, would be scrutinised and included in the subsequent list, if found genuine.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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