The Assam Government has published the final National Register of Citizens (NRC). Out of a total of 3.30 crore present residents of Assam, 3,11,21,004 persons have been included in the list, rest 19,06,657 applicants have been left out of the list.
In, India the Parliament has right to regulate citizenship by law. Then, what is NRC and what will happen to people who are excluded from the list?
What is National Register of Citizens (NRC):
- NRC is a register containing the names of all Indians citizens and was prepared in 1951, based on Census 1951.
- The list is being updated in Assam to include the names of those persons (or their descendants) who appear in the NRC, 1951, or in any of the electoral rolls up to the midnight of 24 March 1971.
- The process to update the register began following a Supreme Court order in 2013.
- The process of receipt of NRC Application Forms started during the end of May 2015 and ended on 31st August 2015.
- The final NRC was released by the Government on 31st August 2019.
Why NRC is being updated in Assam only: –
- The list is being updated as the people claim that decades of migration from Bangladesh has significantly altered the ethnic composition of Assam and the migrants have enjoyed various privileges at the cost of indigenous people.
- The demands to update the NRC of 1951 were first raised by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Assam Gana Parishad more than three decades ago.
- The Assam Movement against illegal immigration eventually led to the historic Assam Accord of 1985, signed between the leaders of AASU-AAGSP and the Government of India.
- The 1986 amendment to the Citizenship Act as per the Assam Accord, inserted Section 6A in the Constitution, which laid down that all persons of Indian origin who entered Assam before January 1, 1966 and have been ordinary residents will be deemed Indian citizens. Those who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971 shall continue to be detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with law.
- Assam Public Works (APW), an NGO, filed a PIL in Supreme Court for deletion of foreigners’ name in electoral rolls and updating the NRC. In 2013, the Supreme Court directed the government to start updating NRC.
Eligibility for Inclusion:
- Persons whose names appear in NRC, 1972
- Persons whose names appear in any of the Electoral Rolls up to 24 March (midnight), 1971.
- Descendants of the above persons.
- Persons who came to Assam on or after 1 January 1966 but before 25 March 1971 and registered themselves in accordance with the rules made by the Central Government with the Foreigners Registration Regional Officer (FRRO) and who have not been declared as illegal migrants or foreigners by the competent authority.
- People who are original inhabitants of Assam and their children and descendants who are citizens of India provided their citizenship is ascertained beyond a reasonable doubt by the registering authority.
- Persons who can provide any one of the documents issued up to midnight of 24 March 1971 as mentioned in the list of documents admissible for citizenship.
- All Indian Citizens including their children and descendants who have moved to Assam post 24 March 1971 would be eligible for inclusion in the updated NRC on adducing satisfactory proof of residence in any part of the country (outside Assam) as on 24 March 1971.
What will happen to those not included in the list:
- Any person who is not included in the list can file appeal before the Foreigners Tribunals within 120 days.
- Assam government has earlier said those left out of the NRC will not be detained under any circumstances until the Foreigners Tribunals declare them as foreigners.
A nation has every right to determine the list of its citizens. However due care must be taken to rehabilitate the excluded persons from any such lists. The government has not signed any treaty with neighbouring countries to determine the fate of ‘foreigners. NRC was updated to preserve the ethnic balance of Assam and people hope that it achieves its purposes without disturbing the social harmony.