Assam's National Register of Citizens: An explainer

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Jul 29, 2018, 11:18 PM(IST)

Villagers wait outside the National Register of Citizens centre to get their documents verified by government officials at Mayong Village in Morigaon district. Photograph:( Reuters )

Assam has since 2015 checked up on every single one of its 3.3 crore residents, asking them to provide documentation to show that they or their families have been living in Assam since before March 25, 1971. Only if the residents are able to show the documentation, will they be considered citizens of Assam, and therefore, of India. 


National Register of Citizens
This massive undertaking is called the National Register of Citizens. A first draft of the NRC was published on December 31/ January 1. 

A total of 1.9 crore residents found their names on the list. 

That leaves 1.4 crore people. Now, a second and final draft will be released at noon on Monday


Why? 
Assam has witnessed a long history of migration from neighbouring Bangladesh. (Bangladesh, then called East Pakistan, declared its independence from Pakistan on March 26, 1971, which explains the cut-off date.) Experts have tried to explain that the migration is economic. That the pressure of population on the land in Bangladesh means people are forced to migrate — there just isn't enough land to feed everybody — and that it therefore cannot be stopped. 

But the migration has led to considerable ill will, with the local population saying the incoming Bangladeshis take up land (obviously) and jobs. 

And there have been allegations that the incoming population was offered citizenship in exchange for votes. The NRC, by the way, is Supreme Court-mandated

 

What happens to the people who do not find their names on the list Monday? 
Assam Finance Minister HImanta Biswa Sarma had said the people who did not find their names on the list would be segregated from the general population, and deported. 

But he passed the buck on to the Centre, saying the central government was responsible for deportation. 

But Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has since said that "Any person who is not satisfied with the outcome of claims and objections can appeal in the Foreigner’s Tribunal. Thus, there is no question of anyone being put in a detention centre after the publication of NRC." 

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