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Understanding Assam-NRC
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam is a register containing details of all Indian citizens in Assam. The first NRC was prepared in 1951, by recording details of people included in that year's Census.

Now, it is being updated only in Assam, to comply with the demands in the Assam Accord, which was the culmination of the six-year-long Assam movement against migrants from Bangladesh.

Assam undertook the exercise in September 2015 and published the first draft with names of 19 million people, on December 31 last year. The second draft for the remaining 13.9 million people was scheduled to be published on July 30. As per schedule, it was published in Assam, identifying 2,89,83,677 people as valid citizens of India. A total of 3,29,91,384 people had applied to become part of the NRC, officials said today. More than 40 lakh people were found to be invalid citizens of India.

To apply for inclusion in the NRC, one's name or one's ancestor's name must be in the 1951 NRC or in any voter list up to the midnight of March 24, 1971, the cut-off date agreed upon. Exclusion from the final NRC does not mean automatic declaration of anyone as foreigner and once the final document is published, if someone is dissatisfied, he or she can always go to a foreigners' tribunal in the state to get justice. There are around 300 foreigners' tribunals in Assam.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said that the NRC was being updated in accordance with the "Assam Accord" signed on August 15, 1985 and the process was being carried out as per the directions of the Supreme Court, which was monitoring it continuously. The home minister had asserted that the NRC exercise was being carried out in a totally impartial, transparent and meticulous manner and will continue so. But is it all being fairly done? The non-Assamese say, no!

People of Bengali origin, both Muslims and Hindus, are in panic, with quite a few of them committing suicides. They are saying that they are being harassed despite having submitted all necessary documents. However, the Supreme Court has now directed that there must be no coercion to those not in the register.

In this connection, we may not forget that the tragic past of partition is still alive in memory of many Bengali-speaking people. Many families came from 'Sylhet' district of East Pakistan to settle in Assam. Before formation of Bangladesh – in East Pakistan – atrocities or threat of atrocities on a part of the Hindu population was there and even now it is continuing. So, some sort of empathy for the Hindu population of Bangladesh is only legitimate particularly, when they are of the same language and religion as that of Bangla and they were all originally residents of undivided India.

The problem of illegal immigration from erstwhile East Pakistan and now Bangladesh started from Partition days and still persists over whole of North East including Assam and even West Bengal. Assam has been impacted most and therefore the current steps towards identification of illegal immigrants are only to be welcomed particularly since it is being monitored by the Supreme Court. Only the implementation process has to be painless. Further, we need a sensible policy that focuses on sending back some illegals, while absorbing the bulk of them with temporary work permits. These can be converted to citizenship and permanent residency over time.

The writer is a commentator and an author.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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