What is National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam

Glen Norman
July 30, 2018

Indian authorities have left the names of almost four million people off a controversial registry list in the northeast border state of Assam, effectively casting a shadow over their citizenship.

People wait to check their names on the draft list at the National Register of Citizens (NRC) centre at a village in Nagaon district, Assam state, India, July 30, 2018.

Sailesh, who uses one name, said more than 4 million left out can file appeals by September 30 and prove their Indian nationality by providing documents.

Of 32.9 million applicants, the names of 28.9 million have been approved and included in the draft, Sailesh, India's registrar general, told reporters in Gauhati, the capital of Assam state.

In 1983, scores of people were chased down and killed by machete-armed mobs intent on hounding out Muslim immigrants.

Fearing a backlash, federal and state security forces have been deployed in large numbers across Assam "to maintain law and order", in sensitive areas, Deepak Kumar, an inspector general of police, said over phone.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is the list of Indian citizens of Assam.

The NRC is an application-based process and if someone does not apply for inclusion of name, that person's name will not figure in the list, however prominent the individual may be, the official said.

Will the NRC resolve the citizenship issue?

"If the government has chose to brand us foreigners what can we do?" More than 70 people died and a bunch of pleas reached the Supreme Court thereafter.

The list has included descendants of those whose names were in the 1951 list and also those who were voters in Assam till March 24, 1971. Those who can't prove that they came to Assam before March 25 1971 will be deemed illegal migrants.

Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan in a 1971 war of independence backed by India. The state has a 167-mile porous border with Bangladesh.

Some residents say the demography of the state has been altered by illegal Muslim migrants and resent this.

There was no need to panic, Singh said on Monday, adding that those missing from the draft list could re-submit their papers.

The NRC office, however, told the Supreme Court this month that 150,000 people from the first list, a third of them married women, would be dropped from the next one, mainly because they provided false information or gave inadmissible documents.

The state's BJP spokesman was not immediately available for comment, but India's home minister, Rajnath Singh, called the registration process impartial.

Tensions between Assam's indigenous tribes and Bengali-speaking Muslims have led to outbreaks of deadly violence in the past. "This is just an exercise to isolate the people who can vote positively and those who can't".

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