Assam seeks peace before publishing names of citizens

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has hinted that the government may use legislative action to deal with the ‘wrongful’ inclusion and exclusion of names in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) after its final publication on August 31. Sonowal told reporters after a meeting with Indian Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Monday that the Assam government would ensure peace before and publication of the final NRC on August 31 as mandated by the Supreme Court.

Replying to a question about the unhappiness of the federal Indian government and Assam authorities over irregularities in inclusion and exclusion of people in the NRC and what government plans to take, Sonowal said "in a democracy, everyone has the right to ask questions. After the publication of NRC, if necessary in future, we will take whatever steps will be required."

The Supreme Court had last month rejected the Indian and Assam governments' plea for sample re-verification of 20 per cent of the names in the NRC in districts bordering Assam and ten per cent in rest of the state to find out wrongful inclusions of names. On July 16, the Indian and Assam governments had approached the apex court with a plea that ‘genuine’ names may have been kept out of the NRC and ‘foreigners’ included in it. The court, however, did not uphold the plea.

On August 1, the Assam government tabled in the state legislature a part of the district-wise break of the NRC data to claim that the inclusion in the document is higher in districts bordering Bangladesh and lower in areas with indigenous-majority people. Sonowal said there were apprehensions about the law and order situation in Assam when the part draft and the final draft of the NRC was published in 2018. "But with the cooperation of the people of Assam, everything went off peacefully. This time also, with the active support of the central government and as per the expectations of the people, the NRC will be published on August 31," he said.

In July last year, over 40 lakh people were excluded from the complete draft of the NRC, which contained 2,89,83,677 eligible people out of a total 3,29,91,384 applicants. An additional 1,02,462 people were excluded from the NRC taking the total ineligible persons to 41,10,169.