Guwahati: The Assam government has published the much-awaited first draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) which includes names of 1.9 crore people of the total 3.29 crore applicants in Assam recognising them as legal citizens of India.
- Registration of all 3.29 crore applicants likely to be completed in 2018
- Assam is the only Indian state having National Register of Citizens
- The NRC was first prepared in 1951
The rest of the names are under various stages of verification, Registrar General of India Sailesh said at a press conference held at midnight where he made the draft public.
"This is a part draft. It contains 1.9 crore persons, who have been verified till now. The rest of the names are under various stages of verification. As soon as the verification is done, we will come out with another draft," he said.
NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela said those people whose names have been excluded in the first list need not worry.
"It is a tedious process to verify the names. So there is a possibility that some names within a single family may not be there in the first draft," said Mr Hajela. "There is no need to panic as rest of the documents are under verification," he added.
Asked about the possible timeframe for the next draft, the RGI said it will be decided as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court -- under whose monitoring the document is being prepared -- in its next hearing in April.
The entire process will be completed within 2018, Sailesh said.
The application process started in May 2015 and a total of 6.5 crore documents were received from 68.27 lakh families across Assam.
"The process of accepting complaints will start once the final draft is published as rest of the names are likely to appear in that," Mr Hajela said.
People can check their names in the first draft at NRC sewa kendras across Assam from 8 am on January 1. They can also check for information online and through SMS services.
The exercise to update the NRC is being carried out in Assam following a decision in 2005 after a series of meetings between the central and state governments and the influential All Assam Students' Union (AASU) in an attempt to document citizens living in the state legally.
Assam, which has faced an influx from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC, first prepared in 1951.
The RGI informed that the ground work for this mammoth exercise began in December 2013 and 40 hearings have taken place in the Supreme Court over the last three years.
The current exercise, started in 2005 under the then Congress regime, got a major push only after the BJP came to power in the state with illegal immigration from Bangladesh as a poll plank.
The Supreme Court, which is monitoring the entire process, had ordered that the first draft of the NRC be published by December 31 after completing the scrutiny of over 2 crore claims along with that of around 38 lakh people whose documents were suspect.
When the NRC was first prepared in Assam in 1951, the state had 80 lakh citizens then.
The process of identification of illegal immigrants in Assam has been debated and become a contentious issue in the state's politics.
A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the AASU in 1979.
It culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985 in the presence of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
(With inputs from PTI)