The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a record containing names of all genuine citizens residing in Assam. The register was first prepared after the year 1951. Assam, which suffered a massive influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, remains the only state to possess the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The recently updated, final Draft of the NRC, includes the names of Indian citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971.

Go through the article to learn more about the NRC issue, the people who are left out of this list, top comments and measures to be taken to fix the issue.

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What is the National Register of Citizens (NRC)?

NRC

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register bearing names of all the citizens from Assam. The purpose of the NRC is to identify illegal migrants residing in the Northeastern city of Assam. NRC wants to identify the citizens who ventured into the Indian territories after midnight on March 24, 2019. The NRC register determines the citizenship of the applicants who have already applied for inclusion of their names in the updated NRC list. This will ensure freedom of the state immigrants. 

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The Need for the National Register of Citizens (NRC)

The NRC is presently undergoing an update in Assam so as to include the names of the persons who appear in the NRC, 1951, or any of the Electoral Rolls for that matter, up to March 24, 1971 midnight. (Electoral Rolls refer to a list of persons who are eligible or registered to vote for a particular district, or jurisdiction if required. )

The update process of the NRC began in the year 2013 under the strict vigilance of the Supreme Court of India. On the midnight of December 31, 2017, Part Draft NRC was released. Subsequently, on July 30, 2018, the Complete Draft NRC was released.

The NRC is updated as per the provisions The Citizenship Act, 1955, The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 and the Ministry of Home Affairs (Office of Registrar General, India), According to the two statutes, the eligibility status would be ascertained based on the NRC, 1951, Electoral Rolls up to 1971. In the absence of a valid status, admissible documents up to March 24, 1971, would be used.

Necessary guidelines, policy decisions and funds for NRC updates are provided by the Central Government of India. However, its implementation is done through the State Government machinery under the Registrar General of India. The RGI here functions as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration under Rule 15 of Citizenship Rules, 2003 as amended in 2009 and 2010.

The modalities for NRC updates have been developed jointly by the Government of Assam, along with the Government of India in adherence to these statutes.

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The Execution of the National Register of Citizens (NRC)

The NRC was executed as an exercise in the year 1951 to enumerate citizens, their houses, possessions and holdings. However, over the years, the indigenous Assamese groups demanded the updation of the NRC. The NRC issue, however, is in a state of flux since it has witnessed waves of migration earlier as a colonial province and later as a border state in independent India.

In the 19th and 20th century, post the Yandabo Treaty (A Peace Treaty signed on February 24, 1826, which ended the Anglo-Burmese war, there was a huge migration of peasants from Bengal to Assam in search of fertile lands. The liberal attitude of the colonials was responsible behind the influx and due to which, the footfall, even post the war did not die down.

In 1979, however, 8 years after the end of the Bangladesh war, which had first incited a wave of migration from across the border, an ‘anti-foreigners’ agitation was triggered. This agitation ran parallelly with an armed struggle by the United Liberation Front of Assam. The latter was demanding a sovereign state for indigenous Assamese people. However, in year 1985, the Assam Accord was signed to end the agitation and promised to provide regularisation to those who entered the state before the year 1966.

It was further decided that the persons who entered the state between 1966 and 1971 would be deleted from Electoral Rolls and would consequently lose their voting rights for 10 years.

Those who entered Assam on or after March 25, 1971, on the eve of the Bangladesh War would now be declared as foreigners and will be deported.

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The Two Drafts of the National Register of Citizens (NRC)

The First Draft of the NRC for Assam was published on December 31, 2017. It incorporated the names of 1.9 crore persons out of the net 3.29 crore applicants.

The Supreme Court had earlier stated that citizens whose names do not figure in the Draft NRC for Assam, which was published on December 31, 2017, would be scrutinised and verified, to subsequently be included in the list post verification.

The Second and Final Draft of the NRC was released on July 30, 2018 and included 2.9 crore names as opposed to 1.9 crores of the First Draft. According to the present R, over 40 lakh people will be ineligible for inclusion. Also, out of 40.70 lakh people, 37.59 lakh names are rejected and 2.48 lakh names are put on hold. Notably, Assam ranks as the first Indian state where the NRC is being updated after 1951 with March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date, so as to ensure inclusion of the names of ‘genuine Indian citizens.’

Eligibility Criteria and Documents needed for registering under the NRC

As mentioned earlier, persons whose names appear in NRC 1951, the ones registered for Electoral Rolls by March 24, 1951, the descendants of the former and latter and the original inhabitants of Assam are eligible to be enrolled under the NRC. As per a November 2018 Ruling, the documents required to mandate an NRC are Names in NRC, 1951, Names in Electoral Roll up to March 24, 1971, Citizenship Certificate and Refugee Registration Certificate, Certified copies of pre-1971 Electoral Roll, particularly, those issued by Tripura and Ration Card.

All the aforementioned documents will be subjected to a strict verification process and would be accepted only after they clear all levels of satisfaction in terms of authenticity.

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Top Comments from Tarun Gogoi, Mamata Banerjee over NRC Row

Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, on January 27, 2019 condemned the National Register of Citizens (NRC). He called it a ‘waste paper’ and said that it should be linked to the Voters List. The whole exercise by spending crores of rupees to update the NRC for detecting illegal foreigners have been wasted. The process was started in 2013 and in five years they (the BJP government) could not publish a correct NRC,” commented Gogoi. ”The NRC is a “waste paper and has become valueless now,” he added.

Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, on January 28, 2019, called the NRC an ‘electoral gimmick,’ and said that would forbid its implementation in West Bengal. 

She also criticised the Centre for bringing in Citizenship Amendment Bill, adding that the move has caused discomfort among the people. “There are many people of my age who cannot produce their date of birth certificates. If someone tells me to produce the date of birth certificate of my mother then I will not be able to do so as earlier the system was different. But now if you cannot produce you date of birth certificates then you will be considered as a citizen of the country in the name of NRC,” said Banerjee at an event. 

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