Of 32.9 million applicants for the NRC, 28.9 million have been found eligible for inclusion in the complete draft of NRC.
The second and final draft of the National
Register of Citizens (NRC) was published on Monday in Guwahati, with names of 4.07 million residents of Assam not finding a mention in the document, fuelling fear of social unrest in the region.
In New Delhi, both Houses of Parliament saw Opposition protests on the issue. In the Lok Sabha, the Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, appealed to political parties to not politicise or create panic since it was a "sensitive" issue.
The Home Minister said the list has been published on the directions of the Supreme Court, that the Centre has no role in it and Opposition allegations against the government were baseless. Opposition parties had accused the government of playing "vote bank politics".
Singh said the NRC list published on Monday is not the final list and applicants will have the option of raising claims and objections. "The Supreme Court will decide the time frame for disposing of these claims and objections,” the Home Minister said.
Several Opposition parties said they were not satisfied with the Home Minister’s response to what is essentially a humanitarian problem and staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha was adjourned thrice and functioned barely for an hour. The issue is set to disrupt at least the Rajya Sabha proceedings with the Trinamool Congress demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks on the subject.
The Congress asked the government to call an all-party meeting and that no families should be separated or people taken to camps until the process was completed. Its deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma said the party supported the exercise which has been done under the Assam Accord that then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had signed in 1985, but questions have arisen about the methodology and credibility of the entire operation.
Sharma said the issue had inter-state ramifications and also affects India's relations with its neighbouring countries, particularly Bangladesh. He said indigenous people, tea plantation workers and others living in that state for generations have been affected.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in Kolkata that she has asked her party MPs to visit Assam. Banerjee, scheduled to be in Delhi for the next couple of days, said she has also sought an appointment with Home Minister Rajnath Singh. She said the four million “Indian citizens have become refugees” in their own land, and accused the Modi government of resorting to "vote-bank politics". “People are being isolated through a game plan. We are worried because people are being made refugees in their own country. It is a plan to throw out Bengali speaking people and Biharis. The consequences (of this move) will be felt in our state also,” she said. Banerjee, as well as Congress leader Sharma, alleged that people with passports, Aadhar numbers or possessing one or several of the 16 proofs of identification, have also been omitted from the list.
Of 32.9 million applicants for the NRC, 28.9 million have been found eligible for inclusion in the complete draft of NRC. The first draft NRC, a list of state's citizens, for Assam was published during the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 this year, containing 19 million of the 32.9 million applicants.
In Guwahati, Registrar General of India Sailesh released the second list. "This is a historic day for India and Assam. The exercise is unparalleled in size. It is a legal process done under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court," he said at a press conference. The exercise was carried out in a transparent, fair, objective manner, he said. The NRC will include the names of all Indian citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971.
Talking about people whose names did not appear in the final draft, the Registrar General said: "The process for making claims and objections will begin on August 30 and continue till September 28. Adequate and ample scope will be given to people for making objections. No genuine Indian citizen should have any fear."
Alluding to reports a large number of “Indian citizens” have found their names missing in the list, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said after spending Rs 12 billion the execution of the exercise has been tardy.
Congress, Trinamool Congress and Left parties sources pointed out that there were large number of Bengalis, tribals, Nepalese speaking people, people working in tea plantations, and others, who have been excluded.
"Intensive revision of voters list in 1995 and 1997 had shown only 350,000 'doubtful' or D voters. It is not clear how another 3.65 million people were dropped (in the complete draft of NRC)," Congress Assam unit chief Ripun Bora said. The non-inclusion of over 4 million applicants is "motivated and we will help those whose names are not there in the list seek legal redress", he said.
All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) president Badruddin Ajmal said the party will provide assistance to all people whose names did not feature in the draft to ensure that no genuine Indian citizen is left out.
"We are yet to analyse the names of people left out and the areas where it has happened.
If we find out that some particular areas have been targeted, we will make a decision on it," he said, adding his party has always wanted Assam to be free from foreigners.
Former Assam Chief Minister and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who had spearheaded the six-year-long Assam agitation against foreigners and was a signatory to the historic Assam Accord, said the central government "must deport people who have come after March 24, 1971 to their original country".
Asked whether West Bengal would give shelter to those whose names have not appeared in the final NRC draft, Banerjee saidn in Kolkata: "They have their homes...they are inhabitants of Assam. We will think about it if they want to come. But why should they be evicted?" "They are Indians, but they became refugees in their own land," she said.