On the midnight of December 31, the Assam government will ascertain verified national citizens in the state as the first draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be published listing the names of citizens who have established their lineage, reported Times of India.
The seven-year-long exercise carried out by the Registrar General of India compiles the names of Indians in the state whose citizenship claims have been established by linkages with their ancestors under the supervision of the Supreme Court.
The Assam Accord 1985 provision states anyone who entered the state until the midnight of March 24, 1971, will be treated as an Indian. As the compilation aims to determine one’s citizenship claims, some people hope it will help the state resolve its decade-long issue of illegal immigration.
About one-third of the state’s population or 90 percent of the state’s Bengali-speaking Muslims are being labelled as Bangladeshis or ‘miyan’. The NCR report would help them establish their citizenship freeing them from the stigma of being acknowledged as an outsider.
“It is going to change how the rest of Assam looks at us,” Abul Kalam Azad, a researcher working on causes of ethnic conflicts with Tata Institute of Social Studies told the paper.
Azad pointed out the Supreme Court’s decision to accept panchayat certificates of Muslim women as a legacy linkage document has helped households verify their citizenships.
“Our girls do not go to schools, aren’t born in hospitals, and are married off early. So they have neither a school nor birth certificate to show their legacy linkage,” Azad said.
In contrast, lack of eligible legacy linkage documents has made it difficult for over 47 lakh citizens to establish their link with ancestors.
“The NRC officials have been visiting my home for re-verification. I have not been able to provide any document to show my relationship with my father,” Samsul Haque, a rickshaw puller, told the paper. Haque is among the citizens who failed to provide valid documents to establish his citizenship.
In such cases, the authorities would hear each case individually to determine whether, or not, they are valid citizens of India.
“There are cases where persons have not been able to establish their linkages with their parents or ancestors. There are bonafide reasons and we will be hearing each case individually. Mala fide cases won’t get into the list,” NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela told the paper.
At the same time, a part of the state population including All Assam Students Union (AASU), which spearheaded the anti-foreigner movement in 1979-85, believes the NRC would not be a game changer for illegal migrants from Bangladesh who entered India before 1971.
“Under the Assam Accord, we have accepted them as Indian citizens and so will the NRC but we have a deal with the Centre that in return, there should be a constitutional guarantee of the right to rule for the indigenous people of Assam.
We want that only those Bangladeshi migrants whose names appear in the 1951 NRC and their descendants be treated as indigenous Assamese,” AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath told the paper.
At the Centre level, the BJP-led NDA government has been seeking an amendment of the Citizenship Act of 1955 to allow citizenship to people who migrated to India before 1971.