The day before the updated draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) is expected to come out, Assam remains tense. Fearing a possible breakout of violence, security forces have been deployed across the state. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people are uncertain about what the future holds for them as they fear that their names may not make it to the list.
How to find out if you are on the list?According to Prateek Hajela, State Co-ordinator of the NRC, the updated version of the NRC will be published by 10 am on 30th July. The draft NRC will be available in every village of Assam. Every citizen will able to check their names by connecting with Booth-level Officers in every village. You can also send your ARN Number (a code number given to all applicants of during the time of submission of their applications) to the four numbers of Government website or by registering their ARN Numbers through sending messages to three numbers of helpline telephone numbers.
The website for checking the ARN Numbers are:
Any person can access these websites and after submitting their ARN Numbers they will able to know whether their names have been entered in the final draft of the NRC.
Moreover, a person can send a mobile message to the NRC helpline numbers viz. 7899405444 or 7026861123 or 97065556555. Anybody who will send their mobile message by citing their ARN Numbers by 7 pm on 29th July will get a message from the same numbers on July 30 from 10 am onwards, giving the status of every member of the family.
What happens if you don’t make it to the list?The Government of Assam and the NRC authority are have maintained that on 30th July, the NRC authority is going to publish only the draft of the updated NRC and it is not final NRC. Anybody, whose name is left out of the final draft, will get the opportunity to raise their claim and objections. These claims and objections should be raised within 30 days from declaration of the draft of the updated version of NRC.
However, many citizens who have submitted their applications along with all sorts of documents regarding their citizenship are not convinced by government assurances, and have dubbed it ‘propaganda’ designed to hide flaws in the system. Their objection is that they have submitted their applications and all necessary documents to prove their citizenship. They have attended all hearings as per notified by the NRC Authority. If their applications are rejected, they will have to jump through more bureaucratic and legal hoops, which many view as unnecessary harassment.
Did ‘Hasty update’ lead to exclusion of a large number of people?Internal sources connected with the NRC update process say that huge number of have been left out of the updated final draft of the NRC in a hasty way. It is alleged that the assurances made by the modalities, SOP, SSOP on update of NRC have been violated in a huge number of cases.
D-Voters and Siblings and family members of Declared ForeignersTherefore the big question on everyone’s minds is how many people will be left out of the updated draft of the NRC? Estimates vary, but it appears that the number could be in lakhs. There are about 1.48 Lakhs of D Voters, plus over 92,000 declared foreigners. Add to this all of their siblings and children of the declared foreigners, whose names will be kept pending from the draft NRC till they have received a clean chit from the FT.
Panchayat Certificates submitted by Married WomenMoreover, the applications of a huge number of married women and unmarried girl children who were allowed to submit the Village Panchayat certificates to establish their linkage with their parents have been rejected by and large. However, after long running legal war the Supreme Court of India, finally held that the uneducated women, who have no birth certificate or other certificates to establish their relationship with their parents must be allowed to held the Panchayat Certificates and genuine link certificates. In these cases, the Supreme Court of India directed the NRC Co-ordinator, to examine the genuineness of such certificates. However, it is alleged that the middle-ranked officials related to the NRC, have directed that those who have submitted the Panchayat Certificates must submit additional documents from before December, 2015, which may be a supportive the Panchayat Certificates!
The married or unmarried women, along with a huge number of minor boys, who have no School or Birth Certificates, could be left out of the final Draft NRC in this way. In huge numbers of cases, the District Level officers have allegedly put on hold the Panchayat Certificates citing it as oral certificates! In this way, lakhs of genuine Indian Citizen could lose the opportunity to enter their names in the updated draft NRC.
Allegations of ploy to keep out Religious and Linguistic MinoritiesMany people view this as an injustice against huge number of Religious and Linguistic Minorities, especially Muslims and Bengali speaking Hindus, who are mostly from Dalit and other oppressed communities. They have been raising this issue by way of protests and demonstrations across the state. The central and state governments are aware of the situation and the possibility of the break out of violence. This is why there is a deployment of security forces all over Assam, especially in the minority dominated districts. Even the Army is on standby.
Image Courtesy: People stand in line to check their names on the first draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) at Gumi village of Kamrup district in the Indian state of Assam on January 1, 2018. /VCG Photo