Assam releases NRC list despite SC 'sealed cover' order

Villagers wait outside the National Register of Citizens (NRC) centre to get their documents verified by government officials, at Mayong Village in Morigaon district, in the northeastern state of Assam, India July 8, 2018. Picture taken July 8, 2018. REUTERS/Anuwar Hazarika

The Assam government on Thursday placed in the assembly a detailed district-wise list of people whose names were excluded in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) currently being updated under the supervision of the Supreme Court.

The list showed that the percentage of names excluded from the draft NRC is higher in the districts bordering Bangladesh than other districts.

The state government's move came up in the House through the top court had earlier asked the State Coordinator of National Registration (SCNR) to submit a report in a sealed cover, terming the issue as a "human problem with great magnitude".

Assam Accord Implementation and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary laid the district-wise list of inclusion, rejection and non-inclusion of applicants' names in the NRC.

The list showed the total number of applicants was 3,29,91,385 and out of which 40,07,717 names, which is 12.15 per cent, were not included.

According to the list, the percentage of non-inclusion of names in Bangladesh bordering districts of South Salmara was 7.22, Dhubri 8.26 and Karimganj 7.67.

In the non-border districts, the list showed Hojai and Darrang districts to have the highest non-inclusion rate at 32.99 per cent and 30.90 per cent, respectively.

"It is a matter of concern that the percentage of names excluded from the draft NRC is higher in the Bangladesh border districts than compared to the rest of the state," Patowary said.

The SCNR came under fire from ruling BJP members in the state assembly, who expressed doubt whether a correct NRC will be published.

The treasury bench members claimed that the rate of exclusion of NRC applicants in the districts bordering Bangladesh was less than the state average - 12.15 per cent.

This is a proof that a section of the people residing in border districts of Assam has wrongly been included in the NRC, they said and criticised the SCNR.

Patowary said, there has been gross misuse of the legacy data in various districts, particularly in the districts bordering Bangladesh.

"Due to this misuse, comparatively less number of people's names were left out of the draft NRC in those districts", the minister said in a statement.

BJP MLAs Debanana Hazarika, Shiladitya Deb and Numal Momin and AIUDF member Nurul Amin raised the issue during Zero Hour.

Only seven per cent of the applicants from the Bangladesh border districts have been excluded from the NRC draft list, Hazarika said and asked why the sample verification as ordered by the Supreme court was not done.

Deb claimed that only eight per cent names were dropped from bordering Dhubri district and its neighbour Barpeta, while 14 per cent names were dropped in Karbi Anglong, which is not a border district.

Momin said while 5-7 per cent of the names from the border districts were excluded from the draft NRC, 18 per cent names of indigenous people were dropped from the list.

Under the Supreme Court's directions, the first draft of the NRC was published on December 31, 2017 and the final draft on July 30, last year where 40 lakh odd people were left out.

The Supreme Court on July 23 extended the deadline for publication of final NRC by a month to August 31.

"We want an error-free NRC that will include the names of Indian citizens and without the names of foreigners," Patowary said.

Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.

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