Assam on the edge ahead of publication of final NRC list

  • Around 21,500 troops of central paramilitary forces have been deployed across the state, said a government official
  • While close to two lakh people are potentially staring at disenfranchisement

Shaswati Das
Updated31 Aug 2019
The Centre has also set up detention centres where the disenfranchised will be lodged.
The Centre has also set up detention centres where the disenfranchised will be lodged.(Reuters)

The Centre and the Assam government are gearing up for the release of the controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC) on Saturday, which potentially seeks to disenfranchise illegal immigrants in the state.

While close to 200,000 people are staring at potential disenfranchisement, the Union home ministry has said that those excluded from the NRC will not immediately be declared as foreigners.

“If a person is left out, he/she has 120 days to approach the foreigners’ tribunal (FT). If they are not happy with the FT’s decision, they can appeal against that decision,” said a Union home ministry official, adding that 200 new FTs were in the process of being set up for the purpose.

The Centre has also set up detention camps to lodge those excluded from the list. However, as per guidelines, a person cannot be kept for more than three years at the camps.

Therefore, they will subsequently be released after recording their biometrics, including iris scans. The person will be allowed to leave the camp only after providing a valid address to the authorities, besides marking his/her presence at the local police station every week.

“As of now, there are six existing detention centres in Assam—Goalpara, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Silchar, Kokrajhar and Tezpur—where the district jails have been converted to camps. The Assam state government has requisitioned the establishment of 10 new detention centres across Barpeta, Dima Hasao, Goalpara, Kamrup, Karimganj, Lakhimpur, Nagaon, Nalbari, Shiv Sagar and Sonitpur,” the MHA official added.

Even though the Centre foresees a calm on Saturday, a central government official said 215 companies (approximately 22,000 troops) of central paramilitary forces have been deployed across the state. The Centre has set up a cyber monitoring system to keep track of incendiary messages, which could be circulated in the wake of the release of the NRC.

In July 2018, Assam released the final draft of the NRC with 28.9 million applicants making it to the list out of 32.9 million people. The final draft had left around four million people out.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court struck down a plea by the central and Assam governments to pause the process of compiling the NRC, and refused to reopen the re-verification exercise.

The Centre has been trying to postpone the 31 August completion deadline to “maintain fairness” of procedure, it had told Parliament last month.

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