Denial of benefits emanating from Aadhar to people who were eventually included in the draft NRC list after being initially excluded from the draft list published in 2018
- Lakhs of people were left out of the complete draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) published in 2018
- As per the Supreme Court mandated rules, those left out of the draft NRC list had to mandatorily submit their biometrics during the hearings of ‘claims’ (to include themselves in the NRC) and ‘objections’ (to object to someone else’s inclusion) process.
- 27 lakh people who were left out from the list published in 2018 submitted their biometric details and amongst these only 8 lakh people made it into the draft list published in 2019. However, these 8 lakh people are struggling to get Aadhaar, and concerned about benefits linked to it
- Lack of clarity and inability to enjoy the full benefits emanating from Aadhar has caused significant mental pressure on individuals.
- This situation has arisen primarily due to the lack of clarity over the NRC exercise since the government is withholding assigning Aadhar to these newly added individuals since the complete and final NRC list is yet to be published
- What needs to be done? Efforts must be taken by the stakeholders (NRS state coordinator, central government, state government of Assam and Supreme Court of India) involved to address the short-term concerns of these individuals and ensure no one is left behind in enjoying the benefits that the state owes (Ex: Food subsidies) to them; particularly during this pandemic times and a mechanism should be put in place to publish a final list of NRC in a time-bound and just manner
About National Register of Citizens:
- The National Register of Citizens was first published in 1951 to record citizens, their houses and holdings.
- Updating the NRC to root out foreigners was a demand during the Assam Agitation (1979-1985). The updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) was published on August 31, 2019.
- It is the biggest exercise India has undertaken to weed out illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, as well as their descendants, settled illegally in India, even as there is still no clear plan on deportation of those excluded from the final list.
- The NRC is a Supreme Court-monitored exercise. It took five years and Rs. 1,220 crore. All residents of Assam had to produce documents proving that they or their families lived in India before March 24, 1971.
- When the final draft of the list was released on July 30, 2018, out of 3.29 crore applicants, the names of over 40 lakh people were left out of the list.
- Over 19 lakh people found themselves excluded from the final list on August 31, 2019.
NRC in Assam
The objective behind the NRC update is the identification of the illegal migrants who migrated from Bangladesh after 24th March 1971 to Assam. It also aims at determining whether the citizens applying for their names in the NRC are the genuine citizens of Assam or not. One of the basic criteria for identification was that the names of the family members of the applicant should be present in the NRC prepared in 1951 or in the electoral rolls up till March 24, 1971.
A person also can present the following documents as proof of his/her citizenship:
- Birth certificate
- LIC policy
- Refugee registration certificate
- Land and tenancy records
- Citizenship certificate, passport, government-issued licence or certificate
- Bank/post office accounts and permanent residential certificate
- Government employment certificate, educational certificate and court records.
Since the year 1950, due to the migrations taking place into Assam, there has been a fear of losing their cultural identity and the demography of the state in the minds of the original inhabitants. During the late seventies, the university students in Assam along with the All Assam Students’ Union started a movement called the Assam Agitation which demanded the detection and deportation of illegal migrants in Assam. The agitation was aggressive and brought the whole state to a standstill.
Assam Accord- 1985
During the year 1985, the Assam Accord was signed between the All Assam Students Union (AASU), the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad and the then Central Government led by Rajiv Gandhi to bring stability in the state. The provisions of the Assam Accord were:
- Any foreigner will be given full citizenship including the right to vote if he/she had come to Assam between 1951 and 1961
- The foreigners who had migrated to Assam between 1961 and 1971 will be given all the rights of citizenship except the right to vote, which would be denied for a period of ten years and those who entered Assam after the year 1971 would be deported.
Many difficulties arose during the implementation of the Assam Accord as it led to massive law problems. Even many people were killed during a mob attack that took place in Barpeta at the office of the Deputy Commissioner.
A petition was filed in the Supreme Court in 2009 by an NGO called Assam Public Works demanding the identification and deportation of illegal Bangladeshis in Assam. They also demanded the deletion of their names from the voter’s list.
In 2013, an order was passed by the Supreme Court for completion of the NRC update by December 31st, 2017. Currently, the Supreme Court is responsible for monitoring the entire process of NRC updation. The NRC is updated on the basis of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
Controversies of the National Register of Citizens (NRC)
With the introduction of final NRC on 31st August 2019 at 10 a.m. for the completion of the 1951 NRC update, a lot of controversies were created and even some law-makers openly came out for criticizing this document. As per the reports, an M.L.A of Assam belonging to the political party All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) was found out of the NRC. On this regard, he expressed that there are thousands of genuine Indians, especially the Bengali Hindus are left out of the final NRC list whereas the illegal foreigners made an entry to the final list. Even re-verification of this draft list was rejected by the Supreme Court.
Eligibility Criteria for NRC
A person should fulfil the following criteria to be eligible for the NRC:
- Any persons whose names appeared in the NRC of 1972 or in any of the Electoral Rolls till the date of 24th March 1971 (midnight) as well as their descendants.
- Persons who had registered themselves as per the rules of the Central Government with the Foreigners Registration Regional Officer (FRRO) and are not considered illegal migrants or foreigners by any authority.
- Any person who had migrated to Assam on or after 1st January 1966 but before 25th March 1971.
- People who are original inhabitants of Assam and their children and descendants who are citizens of India provided their citizenship is ascertained beyond a reasonable doubt by the registering authority.
- Persons who can provide any one of the documents issued up to midnight of 24 March 1971 as mentioned in the list of documents admissible for citizenship.
IAS aspirants should also keep a track on the latest current affairs for any further information important for the exam.
- Updated NRC shall end speculations about the actual number of illegal migrants in Assam and the country.
- It will provide a verified dataset to carry out meaningful debates and implement calibrated policy measures.
- Publication of an updated NRC deters future migrants from Bangladesh from entering Assam illegally.
- Illegal migrants may find it difficult to procure identity documents of India and avail all the rights and benefits of Indian citizens.
- The publication of the draft NRC has already created a perception that staying in Assam without valid documentation will attract deportation and detention.
With the proposal of the All-India NRC (National Register of Citizens), there were widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Source: The Hindu