The individual statuses of the 3.30 crore people who were part of the NRC exercise in Assam that was meant to root out illegal immigrants in the state has been published online. The new list, which comes after 19 lakh were excluded from the final NRC released on August 31, includes the names of those who have been accepted as citizens, those who have been rejected and those whose appeals are pending. It will also allow individuals to check on statuses of family members.
A draft version of the NRC, released in July, excluded more than 40 lakh people or 12.15 per cent of the state's population. In the August 31 NRC that number came down to 19 lakh. Over the next few months, these 19 lakh will have to prove their citizenship at foreigners' tribunals, which are quasi-judicial bodies that will rule on their fates, across the state.
In line with guidelines issued by the centre, they may approach one of more than 300 tribunals within 120 days of the date of publication - i.e. August 31.
Those fortunate enough to survive yet another round of legal scrutiny at the hands of the tribunal will be allowed to stay in the country, while those who do not will be shipped off to the country's first full-fledged detention centre in Goalpara district of Assam.
The fate of those who may be rejected has raised concerns, with each of the ten proposed detention centres, including that being built in Goalpara district at a reported cost of Rs 46 crore, able to hold only 3,000. Given the huge number excluded from, as of August 31, there are fears of overcrowding.
"No law of ours prescribes indefinite detention. The idea of such a thing is abhorred the world over. Detention centres are basically to keep people who have exhausted all legal remedies, but their number will be huge this time round," Syed Burhanur Rahman, a lawyer, told NDTV earlier.
Tragically, those who could be housed in these centres may include those working to build them, given that they are not in the NRC..
"I fear that I will be unable to prove my citizenship and wind up in detention one day. What will happen then? Everybody in my family, from my children to my aged mother and ailing husband, will suffer," Sarojini Hajong told NDTV.
Authorities have sought to dispel fears of a prison-like centre, with a senior state police officer claiming there will be hostel-type rooms with regular doors, proper lighting and ventilation. It will also have a hospital, a primary school and 180 toilets and washrooms for the 3,000 people.
It will also have two walls - an outer one that is 20 feet high and an inner one that is six feet - and watchtowers.
The Assam government had earlier declared it will take all possible steps to help genuine Indians prove their citizenship and provide legal assistance to the poor.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who met Home Minister Amit Shah last month, had appeared to indicate the state could be open to challenging the final NRC.