Assam collects biometrics of NRC dropouts

Assam collects biometrics of NRC dropouts

An NRC dropout in Assam’s Udalguri district. DH File photo

Assam has begun biometric enrolment of over 36 lakh NRC dropouts in order to prevent “illegal migrants from fleeing” after the completion of the multi-crore exercise.

Official sources here told DH that the biometric details of 36.20 lakh applicants, who had submitted their claims after failing to make it to the draft NRC, are being collected in collaboration with the UIDAI, even as the Aadhaar enrolment for the rest of the residents had remained postponed.

“Many among these NRC dropouts could turn out to be illegal migrants from Bangladesh. Once the NRC exercise is over, many of them may flee to the rest of the country out of fear of legal action. So it was decided that the Aadhaar enrolment of these claimants be done so that their biometric details can be stored by the law enforcement agencies to track them as and when required,” said the source.

Aadhaar enrolment in Assam has been postponed in view of the NRC exercise and the Lok Sabha elections.

The NRC is being updated only in Assam under the supervision of the Supreme Court with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date to solve the state’s prolonged foreigner problem. Of the 3.29 crore applicants, over 40.07 lakh found their names missing in the draft NRC, released in July last year. A total of 36.20 lakh of the dropouts, however, submitted their claims for inclusion in the final NRC slated for release on June 30. The cut-off date was decided in the Assam Accord of 1985.

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The biometric enrolment comes days after the Centre informed the Supreme Court that over 72,000 people, who were declared foreigners by tribunals or the Gauhati High Court, had fled and “mixed with the local population”.

An affidavit submitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs told the apex court that 91,609 people were declared foreigners in Assam as on March 2018. Of this, 72,486 people are absconding. Presently, 829 people declared as “foreigners” by the tribunals and 115 foreigners who have completed their jail term, are lodged in the six jail-cum-detention centres, it said.

The Assam government recently told the state Assembly that since 1985, a total of 6,26,793 cases were registered against suspected illegal migrants, of which 1,08,815 were found by foreigner tribunals to be Indians. But only 29,829 of the 1,037,64 declared foreigners could be repatriated. Assam shares 263 km of the border with Bangladesh, of which 13 km (riverine border) continues to remain unfenced; this helps the migrants to illegally settle in the state.