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Freedom India

Reason for Exclusion from NRC only available for 3 lakh people in Assam?

Were the rest of the numbers buffered artificially to serve a political agenda?

Zamser Ali 05 Jun 2020

Assam NRC

In shocking developments in the ongoing citizenship crisis in Assam, SabrangIndia has learnt that the Reason for Exclusion from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is not available for all those who were excluded from the final NRC published on August 31, 2019. Sources in the NRC authority on condition of anonymity told SabrangIndia that the Reason for Exclusion based on which the Rejection Slip is prepared is available for only 3 lakh people!

After shocking revelations from NRC sources, SabrangIndia tried to get in touch with NRC State Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma for a clarification, but our repeated calls went unanswered. We will update our story in case we get an official response.

It may be recalled that 3.29 crore people of the state of Assam had submitted over 6 crore documents to have their names included in the NRC. Over 40,000 government employees were engaged in the mammoth exercise under which 2,500 Nagrik Seva Kendras (NSK) were set up. When the final draft of the NRC was published on July 31, 2018 and it excluded over 40 lakh people sending shockwaves across the state! An Additional Draft Exclusion list of 1,02,462 names of people excluded from the NRC was released on June 26, 2019. This list named people who were previously included in the NRC but were subsequently found to be ineligible for inclusion, mostly on account of being siblings and family members of people who had been declared foreigners.

Out of the total number of excluded people, nearly 4 lakh people did not apply for inclusion as a part of the Claims, Corrections and Objections process. That means more than 36 lakh people went through the process of having their names included in the list. This process included several checks and balances such as multiple document screenings and verifications by different government authorities at different levels as well as claims hearings at designated hearing centers.

When the final NRC was published on August 31, 2019, a total of 19,06,657 people were excluded from it. Now, assuming 4 lakh of these are the original 4 lakh people who didn’t apply for inclusion after the draft NRC was released, that still leaves over 15 lakh people who needed to be given a reason for their exclusion.

This reason for exclusion was given in Speaking Orders by NRC Disposing Officers that in turn needed to be scanned into Rejection Slips. These Rejection Slips or Rejection Orders were required by the people who were excluded from the NRC to file appeals for inclusion before Foreigners’ Tribunals. They were required to do so within 120 days from the day the NRC authority issued these orders. However, this process was time consuming and, as SabrangIndia has been reporting for the last nine months, fraught with inexplicable delays.

In February 2020, during the Budget Session of the Assam Assembly, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary informed the house that Rejection Orders will be issued from March 20 onwards. But then the Coronavirus struck!

On March 19, SabrangIndia had reported that all processes related to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) had been placed on hold due to the spread of the Coronavirus. Speaking to SabrangIndia at that time, NRC State Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma had said, "Only essential staff from my Guwahati office is working and that too from home. All processes have been temporarily put on hold." He had added, "No, we will not be able to issue rejection slips from March 20. This is because of the systems put in place due to the corona virus outbreak." 

Now, as the national lockdown is in various stages of being lifted, the NRC authorities need to once again gear up to resume the process of issuing the Rejection Slips. But, if reasons are available for only 3 lakh people, what happens to the rest of the people excluded from the list? If the total number of people excluded were 19,06,657 and 4 lakh did not apply for inclusion, that leaves over 15 lakh people. If out of these, the reason for exclusion is available for only 3 lakh people, that still leaves 12 lakh people who may never get a proper reason!     

Were they excluded without any reason? Were the numbers of excluded persons buffered artificially to satisfy a political agenda? The ramifications are shocking. Additionally, there is fear that in the absence of actual reasons, perhaps reasons could be manufactured or manipulated in accordance with the government’s allegedly divisive agenda.

Related:

BREAKING: NRC related activity put on hold in Assam due to Corona Virus

Anxiety in Assam: Hurdles in releasing detention camp inmates, delays in NRC rejection slips

Reason for Exclusion from NRC only available for 3 lakh people in Assam?

Were the rest of the numbers buffered artificially to serve a political agenda?

Assam NRC

In shocking developments in the ongoing citizenship crisis in Assam, SabrangIndia has learnt that the Reason for Exclusion from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is not available for all those who were excluded from the final NRC published on August 31, 2019. Sources in the NRC authority on condition of anonymity told SabrangIndia that the Reason for Exclusion based on which the Rejection Slip is prepared is available for only 3 lakh people!

After shocking revelations from NRC sources, SabrangIndia tried to get in touch with NRC State Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma for a clarification, but our repeated calls went unanswered. We will update our story in case we get an official response.

It may be recalled that 3.29 crore people of the state of Assam had submitted over 6 crore documents to have their names included in the NRC. Over 40,000 government employees were engaged in the mammoth exercise under which 2,500 Nagrik Seva Kendras (NSK) were set up. When the final draft of the NRC was published on July 31, 2018 and it excluded over 40 lakh people sending shockwaves across the state! An Additional Draft Exclusion list of 1,02,462 names of people excluded from the NRC was released on June 26, 2019. This list named people who were previously included in the NRC but were subsequently found to be ineligible for inclusion, mostly on account of being siblings and family members of people who had been declared foreigners.

Out of the total number of excluded people, nearly 4 lakh people did not apply for inclusion as a part of the Claims, Corrections and Objections process. That means more than 36 lakh people went through the process of having their names included in the list. This process included several checks and balances such as multiple document screenings and verifications by different government authorities at different levels as well as claims hearings at designated hearing centers.

When the final NRC was published on August 31, 2019, a total of 19,06,657 people were excluded from it. Now, assuming 4 lakh of these are the original 4 lakh people who didn’t apply for inclusion after the draft NRC was released, that still leaves over 15 lakh people who needed to be given a reason for their exclusion.

This reason for exclusion was given in Speaking Orders by NRC Disposing Officers that in turn needed to be scanned into Rejection Slips. These Rejection Slips or Rejection Orders were required by the people who were excluded from the NRC to file appeals for inclusion before Foreigners’ Tribunals. They were required to do so within 120 days from the day the NRC authority issued these orders. However, this process was time consuming and, as SabrangIndia has been reporting for the last nine months, fraught with inexplicable delays.

In February 2020, during the Budget Session of the Assam Assembly, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary informed the house that Rejection Orders will be issued from March 20 onwards. But then the Coronavirus struck!

On March 19, SabrangIndia had reported that all processes related to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) had been placed on hold due to the spread of the Coronavirus. Speaking to SabrangIndia at that time, NRC State Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma had said, "Only essential staff from my Guwahati office is working and that too from home. All processes have been temporarily put on hold." He had added, "No, we will not be able to issue rejection slips from March 20. This is because of the systems put in place due to the corona virus outbreak." 

Now, as the national lockdown is in various stages of being lifted, the NRC authorities need to once again gear up to resume the process of issuing the Rejection Slips. But, if reasons are available for only 3 lakh people, what happens to the rest of the people excluded from the list? If the total number of people excluded were 19,06,657 and 4 lakh did not apply for inclusion, that leaves over 15 lakh people. If out of these, the reason for exclusion is available for only 3 lakh people, that still leaves 12 lakh people who may never get a proper reason!     

Were they excluded without any reason? Were the numbers of excluded persons buffered artificially to satisfy a political agenda? The ramifications are shocking. Additionally, there is fear that in the absence of actual reasons, perhaps reasons could be manufactured or manipulated in accordance with the government’s allegedly divisive agenda.

Related:

BREAKING: NRC related activity put on hold in Assam due to Corona Virus

Anxiety in Assam: Hurdles in releasing detention camp inmates, delays in NRC rejection slips

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