Monday, 20 August, 2018

NRC final draft to be released at 10 am tomorrow

Four million excluded from Indian state's draft list of citizens What's next for the 4 million stripped of citizenship in India?
Charlie Simmons | 03 August, 2018, 18:17

Yesterday, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) published a list minus the names of those who emigrated to India in the aftermath of the Bengali liberation war.

"I am anxious and upset".

Rubul Ali, a carpenter from Lakhimpur district finds himself in a similar situation. My own trepidation is that if thousands of people deemed to be "stateless" can be kept like this, what's going to happen when its millions?

The state government has put stringent security in place while the chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, has told Indian media that those finding themselves stateless overnight should not worry. "None of my family members is on the list either", Ali told DW.

More than 4 million Indians risk losing their citizenship and being expelled from the country if they fail to provide evidence of having entered Assam before 1971, the year of Bangladesh's declaration of independence. No action should be taken against anybody on the basis of the draft. The NRC allows those deemed "D" or "doubtful" voters to apply for inclusion but does not include their names unless the Foreigners Tribunals - statutory authorities set up to detect "illegal immigrants" in Assam - declare them as non-foreigners.

There have been longstanding social and communal tensions in the state, with locals campaigning against illegal immigrants - a fight championed by the Hindu nationalist-led government of the prime minister, Narendra Modi.

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A high alert has been sounded across the nation following the publication of the final draft of the NRC in Assam.

"The issue that the Congress is highlighting is that a large number of Indians have been rendered as refugees in their own country and this was unacceptable", he said and urged the BJP and the government to behave responsibly on the issue in national interest and unity. "Their divide-and-rule policy spreads venomous hate and decimate India's brotherhood to garner votes is their principle agenda", he alleged.

The list featured over 2.89 crore names out of almost 3.29 crore applicants in Assam.

Speaking at a press conference after the launch of the final draft list, Sailesh, the Registrar General-and Census Commissioner of India, attempted to calm fears, suggesting that the State government would begin a period of "claims and objections". The Bengalis, mostly Muslims, live in the marshy areas of the Brahmaputra River and - even if they do exist - their documents are often inaccurate. Hundreds of thousands of people fled what was then East Pakistan in the 1970s, most settling in Assam. Most settled in Assam, which shares a long border with Bangladesh. "You want to save illegal Bangladeshis".

"On completion of verification of all applicants, the complete draft is being published", the government said in a statement.

The top court, which is monitoring the NRC work, had earlier said that the claims of those citizens, whose names do not figure in the draft NRC for Assam published by December 31 a year ago, would be scrutinised and included in the subsequent list, if found genuine.

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