In a politically sensitive development, Assam’s NRC Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sharma has informed Supreme Court that “fundamental and serious errors” have crept in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) updating and sought “comprehensive re-verification. Sharma in an affidavit said that around 50,000 persons were found eligible to be included in NRC though their names were excluded from the draft NRC.
“For a flawless complete NRC, names of these persons have to be included in NRC failing which NRC will lose its acceptability,” said the affidavit submitted last week. Detailing the discrepancies, the affidavit said that out of around 30,684 people in the Kamrup district included in the supplementary NRC under the ‘Original Inhabitants’ category, 7,446 were found ineligible while 23,345 persons were found eligible on the ground other than the ‘Original Inhabitant’ category. Only 107 were found eligible under the ‘Original Inhabitant’ category, Sharma pointed out seeking detailed re-verification.
The National Register of Citizens was always a controversial issue in Assam for the past seven decades and got aggravated by the continuing influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam.
“Pass appropriate directions for a complete, comprehensive, time-bound re-verification of draft NRC as well as supplementary list of NRC,” said the affidavit. The re-verification should be done under the supervision of a monitoring committee in the respective districts and the committee must preferably have the concerned District Judge, District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police, it added.
The affidavit also pointed out that 3.93 lakh persons excluded from NRC (out of a total of 40 lakh) who did not file any claims and objections against the same. The application said that after some sample checks and analysis, 50,695 persons out of the 3.93 lakh were found to be eligible for inclusion in NRC under the ‘Original inhabitants’ category or “Persons from other States” category. The affidavit also pointed out that many persons not included in the list have not yet approached the Foreign Tribunal.
The National Register of Citizens was always a controversial issue in Assam for the past seven decades and got aggravated by the continuing influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam. The events quickly developed into a mass movement which came to be known as Assam Agitation or Assam Movement led by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) leading to many agitations for years in the mid-80s. The movement culminated in the signing of a landmark Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) – the Assam Accord, between the agitating parties & the Union of India on 15 August 1985, at the behest of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in New Delhi. However, after the Accord, many demands were raised for the procedure in preparation for the NRC.
Finally, in 2013, the task was taken up by the Supreme Court of India’s Bench comprising of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Nariman. The apex court ordered the Union Government and the State Government to complete the updation of NRC, in accordance with Citizenship Act, 1955 and Citizenship Rules, 2003, in all parts of Assam. Since then, the Supreme Court of India has been closely monitoring the process and holding regular hearings.
The entire process was conducted by Prateek Hajela, an IAS, who has been designated as the State Coordinator of National Registration, Assam. The final updated NRC for Assam, published 31 August 2019, contained 31 million names out of 33 million population. It left out about 1.9 million applicants, who seem to be divided roughly equally between Bengali Hindus, Bengali Muslims and other Hindus from various parts of India.
He was later removed by the Court following allegations of so many irregularities in the draft Register and the Court appointed Hitesh Dev Sharma as new NRC Coordinator in October 2019. Prateek Haleja faced charges of tampering with the registration process.
 Why was NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela transferred out of Assam? – Oct 18, 2019, Scroll
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