'Genuine Indians will be included in citizen registry'

Sonowal also ruled out any possibility of violence after the publication of the NRC on Saturday saying adequate forces were deployed across the state to deal with any situation. (PTI file photo)

With Assam on the edge ahead of the publication of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today said names of all "genuine Indians" will be incorporated in the list of the state's citizens.

Sonowal also ruled out any possibility of violence after the publication of the NRC on Saturday saying adequate forces were deployed across the state to deal with any situation.

"Names of all genuine Indian citizens will be included in the final draft. There should be no apprehension over it," he told PTI.

The chief minister said the state government has provided all assistance to the NRC authorities and people too have been extending full cooperation to the entire exercise, which is being undertaken under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court.

"The central government has provided additional forces following our requests. Both the central and the state governments are working as a team. We hope that the people will cooperate with us like they did in the past," he said.

Meanwhile, home ministry officials in New Delhi said the publication of the final draft of the NRC may be delayed by a few days due to the current wave of floods in the state which affected more than five lakh people in seven districts. As many as 25 people have also lost their lives in the floods.

The NRC authorities are expected to approach the Supreme Court seeking an extension to the June 30 deadline for the publication of the final draft of the NRC, an official said.

The part draft of the NRC, a list of the state's citizens, was published on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 where names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated.

The massive exercise aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in the state that borders Bangladesh is being carried out in Assam following a decision in 2005 after a series of meetings between the central and state governments and the influential All Assam Students' Union (AASU).

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

The current exercise, started in 2005 under the then Congress regime, got a major push only after the BJP came to power in the state with illegal immigration from Bangladesh as a poll plank.

The Supreme Court, which is monitoring the entire process, had ordered that the first draft of the NRC be published by December 31 after completing the scrutiny of over two crore claims along with that of around 38 lakh people whose documents were suspect.

Of the 3.29 crore applications submitted, there was confusion over the inclusion of 29 lakh people who had submitted certificates issued by 'gram panchayats' as proof of identity, after a Gauhati High Court order in February had deemed 'panchayat' certificates invalid, another official said.

The Supreme Court set aside the High Court order and upheld the validity of the certificates as identity proof if they were followed up with proper verification.

The apex court also asked authorities to stick to the original deadline for the publication of the draft NRC and include names of those whose claims were verified.

When the NRC was first prepared in Assam way back in 1951, the state had 80 lakh citizens then.

The process of identification of illegal immigrants in Assam has been debated and become a contentious issue in the state's politics.

A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the AASU in 1979. It culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985, in the presence of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

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'Genuine Indians will be included in citizen registry'

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