Several prominent organizations in Assam have expressed their displeasure at the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) list, which was made public on Saturday, saying they felt the number of exclusions should have been higher.
In the final list released by state NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela, names of 1.9 million of the total 33 million applicants were not included. The names of 31.1 million applicants were found eligible for inclusion in the final list.
The complete draft of NRC, released in July 2018, had excluded 4 million names and another exclusion list, released in June this year, had excluded 100,000 names — taking the total number of exclusions to 4.1 million.
All Assam Students Union (AASU), the state’s premier student body, which spearheaded the 1979-1985 agitation against foreigners, is planning to approach the Supreme Court to air its grievance.
“We are disappointed as the figure of 1.9 million exclusion is nowhere close to earlier figures of illegal immigrants made public by government ministers in past. We will approach Supreme Court seeking intervention,” said AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya.
In May 1997, former union home minister Inderjit Gupta had said there were 10 million illegal immigrants in India. In July 2004, former union home minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said in Rajya Sabha that the figure was 12 million.
In November 2016, former union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju told Rajya Sabha that there were 20 million illegal immigrants in India.
The AASU-led agitation culminated in signing of the Assam Accord in 1985 between leaders of the student body, All Assam Gana Sangram Parisahd (AAGSP), and central and state governments. Updating the NRC for detection of illegal immigrants, deletion of their names from voter lists and their deportation was an important part of the accord.
“The BJP-led government in Assam lost a historic opportunity to provide an error-free NRC. They could have used provisions of 4(3) of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, to verify names to be included in the NRC, but didn’t,” said AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi.
Abhijeet Sarma, of Assam Public Works (APW), a Guwahati-based NGO, whose petition to the Supreme Court in 2009 was the basis for the apex court ordering update of the NRC in 2013, also expressed disappointment
“We have got a big zero from this NRC exercise. The figure of 1.9 million includes nearly 400,000 who didn’t file claims and also many indigenous Assamese,” said an agitated Sarma.
Similar sentiments were echoed by peasant leader Akhil Gogoi of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), who hoped petitioners like APW and AASU take it up with the Supreme Court.
“The figure of exclusions in final NRC is much less than statements made earlier (by government ministers). We hope that the petitioners, who had approached the Supreme Court to order updation of NRC, will approach the apex court again and we will get a completely correct NRC,” Gogoi said.