In a move that will spell fresh anxiety and angst among minorities in Assam, NRC coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma has asked deputy commissioners of all 33 districts to delete the names of “ineligible” persons from the final National Register of Citizens.
Protesting the decision, Assam’s Citizen Rights Protection Coordination Committee (CRPCC) termed it as a “conspiracy against the minorities”.
In a letter to the deputy commissioners, a copy of which is with IANS, Sarma said: “This is to inform you that as per the reports received from your end through Webform, some names of ineligible persons belonging to the categories of DF (declared foreigners), DV (doubtful voters), PFT (pending in Foreigners Tribunals) along with their descendants have found entry to the NRC.”
Sarma, a senior IAS officer, in his Tuesday’s letter, directed them to issue orders for deletion of such names from the NRC as per Clause 4 (6) of the Schedule under the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 after “specifically ascertaining the identity of the person”.
The deputy commissioners are also ex-officio District Registrars of Citizen Registration (DRCR).
There are provisions in the NRC rules that the authorities can verify and delete wrongful inclusions and correct wrongful exclusions at any time before the publication of the final NRC.
“The LRCR (Local Registrar of Citizen Registration) may at any time, before the final publication of the NRC in the state may cause or direct to cause verification of names of such persons considered necessary,” the letter said, adding that the registrar general of India is yet to publish the final NRC as per clause 7 of the Schedule of the Citizenship (Registrations of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules 2003.
Assailing Sarma’s decision, CRPCC president Tapodhir Bhattacharjee said that the NRC was prepared by the Assam government officials by spending crores of money and under the supervision of the Supreme Court.
“The NRC Coordinator’s letter to the deputy commissioners supported the Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s demand to cancel the NRC. The NRC was earlier prepared inhumanly harassing the minority people in the name of checking the documents,” Bhattacharjee told the media.
The NRC was released on 31 August last year, excluding the names of 19,06,657 persons. A total of 3,11,21,004 names were included out of 3,30,27,661 applicants.
Most of the stakeholders, NGOs and political parties, after the publication of the NRC, criticised it as a flawed document, claiming exclusion of genuine indigenous people and the inclusion of illegal immigrants.
Assam’s parliamentary affairs Chandra Mohan Patowary recently informed the Assembly that the state government had submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court requesting for re-verification of 20 per cent names in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10 per cent in the remaining areas of the state.