Though the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has been completed, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said the state government has approached the Supreme Court for a re-verification of the Assam NRC published online in August 2019, claiming that the figures have not reached its 'finality', once again pricking a sense that the government is trying to open the Assam NRC.
According to the final list of the NRC that was released on August 31 in 2019, 19 lakh out of 3.29 crore who had applied were excluded. Mr Sarma, however, said, "We have not reached finality as far as NRC is concerned."
"We have already pointed out several lacunas in the first NRC. The NRC coordinator (Hitesh Dev Sarma) has already filed an affidavit (to the Supreme Court) detailing the anomalies and the requirement for a re-verification of the NRC," the minister added during a media interaction at Janata Bhawan in Guwahati.
Though the names excluded from the NRC were supposed to be issued rejection slip after which they could have appealed again at the Foreigners Tribunal where they would undergo trial and on failing to provide proper documents, stripped off citizenship, the Supreme Court has barred the authorities from sharing the names without an Aadhaar-like security system.
During the Autumn Session of Assam Assembly last year, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary replying to a written question asked by the opposition, had said, the state government had filed a petition in the Supreme Court in July last year seeking "sample re-verification" of 20 per cent applicants in the districts bordering Bangladesh and 10 per cent of all applicants included in the final list of the NRC.
Mr Sarma, speaking in the same line on Wednesday said, "If we see a gross difference in the results of the re-verification, we will move the Supreme Court for a fresh NRC. If we find the figures of the re-verified list to match with the initial NRC, then we will accept the first list."
When asked why the anomalies in the NRC occurred at the first place, Mr Sarma said, "We hold the former NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela singularly responsible for the financial and the legal mess he had created and for the gross injustice to the people of Assam. He is responsible for all the omissions and commissions conducted during the NRC upgrade process."
Mr Hajela was appointed as Supreme Court mandated NRC coordinator in 2013. The National Register of Citizens 1951 has been updated in Assam based on the base year March 24, 1971.
Last year, the new NRC coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma, in a rather controversial order, had asked the district authorities to delete "ineligible persons" and their descendants who were included in the list, and issue speaking orders for the deletion of such names.
The Supreme Court on January 29 issued notice on two pleas against the actions of Hitesh Dev Sarma.