Assam NRC authorities have ordered district officials to delete the names of “ineligible” persons from the “final” list that was published in August last year. The names to be deleted run into the thousands, a top NRC official said.
A letter from Hitesh Dev Sarma, the state’s senior-most NRC official, to deputy commissioners (DC) and district registrars of citizen registration (DRCR) in each of Assam’s 33 districts also asks them to issue speaker orders for detention to these thousands of people, sources within the NRC said.
“As per reports received from your end… some names of ineligible persons belonging to the categories of DF (declared foreigners) / DV (doubtful voters) / PFT (pending in foreigners tribunals), along with their descendants, have found entry in the NRC,” Mr Sarma wrote.
“The LRCR (local registrar of citizen registration) may at any time before the final publication of the NRC in the state may cause or direct to cause verification of names of such persons considered necessary,” Mr Sarma said, quoting the relevant rules.
NRC rules do allow authorities to verify and delete wrongful inclusions (and exclusions) any time before the publication of the final NRC. However, the final list – with details of 3.3 crore people – was published on August 31, 2019, and an online list was published two weeks later.
In February, however, NRC authorities initiated what they called a “part of the post-final NRC publication process… to check if any “ineligible” category people” had been included.
According to Mr Sarma, DCs and DRCRs had reported to him earlier about some ineligible persons. Mr Sarma had written to DCs and DRCRs to verify and submit a list of “ineligible” names and reasons for their deletion.
A draft version of the NRC that was released in July excluded over 40 lakh people. The final list that was released the next month brought that number down to 19 lakh.
When the final list was published Assam BJP leaders lashed out, saying many genuine citizens (especially refugees who migrated from Bangladesh before 1971) had been excluded.
Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said it was “faulty” and that the Supreme Court would be approached to seek re-verification – 20 per cent in border districts and 10 per cent elsewhere. This was rejected after the court was told 27 per cent incidental re-verification had been done.
On August 31 this year, Assam minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said in the Assembly that the Assam government had submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court for re-verification.