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iasparliament
July 31, 2018
1 year
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Why in news?

  • The final draft of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam was released recently.
  • Click here to know more on NRC in Assam

What are the highlights?

  • The updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) listed 2.89 crore citizens.
  • These were out of the 3.29 crore applicants for inclusion.
  • So there are 40 lakh applicants who were not included in the NRC.

What is the status of these 40 lakh?

  • Since it's only a draft, it does not necessarily mean that the excluded 40 lakh are not citizens.
  • No one will lose citizenship rights or be sent to a detention camp merely on the basis of the draft NRC.
  • They can file claims and objections at various NRC Seva Kendras during the specified period.
  • The Home Ministry has announced that after these, the final NRC will be published by December 31, 2018.

How were they dealt before?

  • Since 1964, the Foreigners Tribunals have identified an estimated 90,000 foreigners in Assam.
  • But many of them are dead and many more are “untraced”.
  • Until recently, around 900 “declared foreigners” and “D-voters” (doubtful voters who could not establish their citizenship) were in the six detention camps.
  • The NRC has put “on hold” 2.48 lakh names in four categories.
  • These are “D-voters” and their descendants, and people whose cases are pending in the tribunals and their descendants.
  • There have been reports about “D-voters” subsequently being declared Indian citizens by the tribunals.
  • But they are being marked “D” all over again in later electoral rolls.
  • To resolve such issues, plans are being made for a centralised database.
  • This will link to real-time information on the status of “suspected foreigners”.

Who are eligible for further inclusion?

  • The draft includes only those who could establish their linkage to March 24, 1971 or earlier (the cut-off date in the Assam Accord).
  • The excluded 40 lakh would thus have submitted papers that were not enough to establish this linkage.
  • They now have to back up their claims for inclusion with other eligible proofs.
  • They will have to prove that they or their ancestors were citizens on or before March 24, 1971.
  • Anyone who figured in electoral rolls up to March 24, 1971, or who are descendants of such citizens, are eligible for inclusion.
  • Various other documents are admissible such as birth certificates and land records.
  • But these are valid only as long as these were issued before the cutoff date.
  • The claims-and-objections process will also take into account errors during the update, if any.

What after the final NRC?

  • Once the final NRC is published, there will still be some out of the register.
  • Appeal - They can approach any of the state’s 100 Foreigners Tribunals (the quasi-judicial bodies established in 1964).
  • They can also approach the Gauhati High Court and then the Supreme Court.
  • The Assam Border Police can refer any “suspected foreigner” to these tribunals following an inquiry.
  • Deportation - If even these legal recourse fails for those excluded, they could be deported.
  • Assam also has six detention camps for illegal migrants within existing jails, and proposes to build a seventh.
  • These cannot, however, be expected to accommodate all the exclusions, which could finally run into lakhs.
  • Also, Bangladesh has never officially acknowledged that any of its citizens migrated illegally to Assam.
  • Stateless - So if not deported or detained in a camp, they would officially remain to be non-citizens.
  • But what happens to these non-citizens remains a grey area as India has no fixed policy for “stateless” persons.
  • The only aspect that is more or less clear is that a “stateless” person will not have voting rights.
  • The Centre may consider formulating a policy for the “stateless”, after the final NRC.
  • He or she may, however, be provided certain facilities on “humanitarian grounds”.
  • There have also been suggestions in Assam that they be given work permits.

 

Source: Indian Express

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