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Assam issues citizens register

13 January 2018

The NRC of 1951 is being updated in Assam under the supervision of the Supreme Court to identify original residents of the state in order to check illegal migration. The commission aims to complete the process by 2018. The fact that only some of the names of the members of a single family appeared on the list while others did not has also raised doubts about the rigour of the verification process.

Though the outlawed Ulfa (I) chief's name was enrolled in the first draft of the NRC, his wife, Boby Bhuyan Baruah, and his two sons - Anku and Akash - living overseas were not lucky enough to get their names enrolled in the first draft.

The West Bengal BJP today criticised Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for alleging the Centre was "hatching a conspiracy" to drive out Bengalis from Assam, and said the TMC was trying to make an "issue out of an non-issue" for vested political interest.

On the issue of missing names, MLA of the All India United Democratic Front, Aminul Islam said, "The names of the Indians who have documents prior to 1971 may not have been included in the first list of NRC but I hope their names will be included in the second list after proper verification".

On Monday, however, a man in Silchar, about 500 km (310.6 miles) from the state capital Guwahati, allegedly committed suicide because of the NRC publication. Recently, the Supreme Court of India granted the use of verified Gram Panchayat certificates as the proof of citizenship, but still many Indians are waiting to be counted as one.

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While there was a strong apprehension of probable tension and violence, once the list was out, the state has remained calm 48 hours since the publication of draft NRC on December 31. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is the register containing names of legal citizens. "A mechanism has to be evolved by the central government on what to do with them", he said.

"Only those declared by Foreigners' Tribunals as foreigners are kept in the detention centres", he said.

The country's principal opposition party, the Indian National Congress, urged the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP to clarify why it did not publish the entire list by the end of 2017, as ordered by the Supreme Court.

The BJP won elections in the state in 2016 after promising to root out illegal immigrants from mainly Muslim Bangladesh and protect the rights of indigenous groups.

Since the last several weeks, Assam was on tenterhooks before the release of an initial part draft of the contentious NRC on Sunday midnight. At the same time, it also needs to spell out what it intends to do with the persons whose names do not figure in the final NRC.

Assam issues citizens register