Justice Gogoi said there was an “urgent need” to identify the illegal migrants in Assam.
Guwahati: When Union home minister Amit Shah prepares the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the entire country, the fate of over 19 lakh people left out in the Assam NRC hangs in the balance with the authorities not sure about the legal status and course of action against all those who refuse to move applications before the Foreigners Tribunals in Assam.
Saying the NRC authorities are yet to start the process of issuing rejection letters to over 19 lakh people whose application for inclusion of their names into the NRC were rejected, sources engaged in updating the NRC in Assam told this newspaper that the Central government, which is custodian of the NRC, has not taken any decision on the fate of people who refuse to move applications
before the tribunals.
Referring to the existing provision after the NRC’s publication, the authorities said individuals whose names were not included in the NRC could not be declared as foreigners. “The NRC authorities would issue a rejection letter to all those whose names were not included. To establish their Indian citizenship, they will have to move the Foreigners Tribunals in the stipulated period of 50 days,” sources said, adding only Foreigners Tribunals or a court of law could declare an individual as a foreigner.
However, the NRC authorities are yet to get any directive from the home ministry about individuals who refuse to go before the Foreigners Tribunals.
Admitting that the ministry was yet to take a decision on how to handle such situations, sources said there had been instances of a large number of people failing to present their claim before the NRC authorities due to poverty. Noting that a large number of beggars and homeless people failed to present their case for inclusion, sources said the process of updating the NRC was aimed at stripping the citizenship of people whom the authorities describe as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. People have to prove that they or their family had moved to Assam before March 1971, when neighbouring Bangladesh gained independence.
Though it is yet to be assessed if the prime objective of updating the NRC was fulfilled or not, former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has hailed the NRC as a “document for the future”. Justice Gogoi said there was an “urgent need” to identify the illegal migrants in Assam.
While addressing a gathering before his retirement, he said: “This is an occasion to put things in proper perspective, the National Register of Citizens, as it may finally emerge, is not a document of the moment. It’s not about 19 lakhs or 40 lakhs. It’s a base document for the future.”
He recently said: “There is an urgent need to ascertain with some degree of certainty the number of illegal migrants, which is what the current NRC exercise had attempted, nothing more, nothing less.” The CJI also criticised those he called “armchair commentators” for raising questions about the NRC exercise.
In the final NRC list published on August 31, a total of 3,11,21,004 persons were found eligible for inclusion in the list, leaving out 19,06,657 persons, including those who didn’t submit claims in Assam.