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New Delhi: Assam early on Monday released the first draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) containing 19 million names out of the state’s 32.9 million population.

The centre said that it was examining the reasons behind the exclusion of names in the first draft.

“The matter is still under examination. The reason behind certain names not being there in the first draft is being examined. But we are firm on taking action if people or families are unable to furnish the requisite evidence. No person who is a genuine case will be left out. So they should not worry if their name has not figured in this list," said a senior central government official, requesting anonymity.

Experts urged people to be patient with the process even as the first draft was released amid tight security cover of 45,000 paramilitary and state police personnel.

“This is the first time that such a gigantic exercise is being carried out in the country. While this method is certainly not foolproof, it must also be given time. However, this process comes with the promise of not discriminating on religious lines at all," said Nani Gopal Mahanta, professor of political science at Gauhati University.

With the first draft leaving out hundreds of thousands of names, some experts said that several families stood the risk of being torn apart.

“A staggering number of people will not be in the NRC. A large number of people are already in detention centres. Even if one member in a family does not get recognition, he or she will be thrown into a detention centre first, before being deported," said Kishalay Bhattacharjee, author and expert on northeastern affairs.

In April 2017, the Assam unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promised to identify and expel all illegal immigrants from the state, while promising to extend protection to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and people belonging to the Scheduled Castes from Bangladesh.

With Assam being pivotal to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) growth strategy in the northeast, the Sarbananda Sonowal government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the smooth execution of the NRC project.

The Congress party cautioned the BJP-led Assam state government against mismanagement of the project, urging the process be carried out smoothly. The party extended its support to the people of Assam and said the process should be carried out “peacefully and lucidly."

“We assure the people of Assam that Congress leaders and workers will leave no stone unturned to ensure that not a single claim of any citizen is left unaddressed and not a single family or a section of people suffers on account of lack of appropriate verification of their documents or claim. We will handhold and provide all the necessary support in this regard," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.

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