Over 10-lakh NRC dropouts fail to submit claims

Names of over 40.07 lakh of 3.29 crore total applicants were dropped from the final draft. (Photo by Manash Das/Guwahati)

The impact of the shock Afzal Hussain received on January 1, 2018, after his name was dropped from the first draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) is unlikely to subside in 2019 too.

Hussain, son of a farmer from western Assam's Goalpara district is among the 10-lakh odd NRC dropouts, who could not submit claims on Monday, the last day fixed by the Supreme Court for submitting claims and objections regarding the NRC.

Names of over 40.07 lakh of 3.29 crore total applicants were dropped from the final draft. The first draft was released on the midnight of December 31 last year and final draft on July 30. 

The NRC 1951 is being updated only in Assam with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date, to solve the state's long problem of "illegal migration," mainly from neighbouring Bangladesh. This means those submitting acceptable documents to prove that they or their forefathers had lived in Assam before midnight of March 24, 1971, would be included in the updated NRC and offered a national identity card. Those failing to do so would subsequently be declared foreigners for deportation.

The cut-off date was agreed in the Assam Accord of 1985, which was signed with the Centre following the six-year-long Assam Agitation or the anti-foreigners movement.

The Supreme Court is monitoring the NRC update exercise.

Hussain had submitted a land document of 1969 in his father Abdul Majid's name as a legacy document to prove his citizenship but it was turned down by the NRC office saying it was found to be fake during a verification.

“My father had no other pre-1971 document and I was born in 1980 only. Now I don’t know how to get my name in the NRC,” Hussain told DH over the phone with a voice of helplessness.

Sources in the NRC office here said 30-lakh dropouts had submitted claims till Sunday and hundreds crowded the 2,500 NRC Seva Kendras (NSK) on the last day on Monday. “The number of claims will go up significantly as there was a large crowd in the NSKs today. But we can tell the exact numbers only tomorrow,” said the source.

Similarly, nearly 600 objections had been submitted against possible inclusion of ‘illegal migrants’ in the updated NRC.

Bapukon Ali, a construction labourer looked impatient at an NSK here at Hatigaon. Name of his wife Armina Begum was dropped as the legacy document in her father’s name was rejected.

“Today I filed a land document in her father’s name as a legacy document and submitted her birth certificate to prove her linkage with her father. Now we just hope her name is included in the final NRC,” Ali said.

All Assam Bengali Youth Students’ Federation said many Hindu Bengali applicants could not submit claims as they had lost pre-1971 documents in riots in 1983, 1998 and 2012 and devastating floods the state witness almost every year.

“Our request is that the dropouts submitting any pre-1971 documents should be included in the NRC so that the genuine citizens are not termed as a foreigner,” assistant secretary of the federation Bapi Sarkar said.

DH on December 23 issue highlighted how NRC was blamed for at least 39 suicides by the dropouts or their family members in the past year. 

Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said a number of claims were very low due to lack of campaigns by local organisations, who have been complaining about illegal migration in the state. The All Assam Students’ Union blamed the state government.

Verification of the documents submitted during claims and objections period will commence on February 15.  

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Over 10-lakh NRC dropouts fail to submit claims

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