The primary goal of the National Register of Citizens was to detect illegal migrants in the state, mostly from Bangladesh. It has led to severe implications all around the country especially in Assam. Lets read about it in detail.
National Register of Citizens
The National Register of Citizens is a register containing the details of all Indian Citizens. The original purpose of NRC is to weed out illegal immigrants residing in the state.
Why is it necessary to register under the NRC?
The NRC is the primary method used to detect illegal immigrants. Therefore, registering oneself under the NRC will protect the person from harassment. It also gives you access to a lot of governmental schemes. If an individual is not registered under the NRC, they can receive a notice from any of the foreign tribunals- to establish their Indian citizenship. If they cannot establish the same, consequences are severe and the individual may face deportation or jail.
Background of the NRC
In the year 1951, after the first census of India was conducted, a national register of citizens was prepared by recording particulars of all the citizens.
Method of making the list
It was prepared in such a manner of respect that each village showed the houses or holdings that the people lived in a serial order. Against each house or holding, a list was made indicating the number and names of the people staying in it. Additional details such as nationality, age, sex, educational qualification and occupation were also recorded. This national register for citizens was prepared under a directive of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Initially, these registers were kept in the officers of the sub-divisional officers. However, around the late 70s, the onus of maintaining the registers was shifted on to the police department.
Legal provisions surrounding NRC
The act governing the NRC is the Citizenship act of 1955 and the Citizenship rules 2003, together with the Assam Accord.
Citizenship, being a union subject, the guidelines for the process of updating of the NRC. However, the implementation is done through state guidelines, under the guidance of the registrar general of India.
The Assam Accord was signed in 1985 and determined the cut-off date for the detection of foreigners in the Assam territory. The act further enumerates that all persons who came to Assam before 1st January 1966 up to March 1971. Any names of foreigners who came after March 1971, will be deleted from the electoral rolls.
Rule 4A of the citizenship rules differentiates NRC in the state of Assam from the rest of the country. The manner of preparation of the NRC for Assam is also specified under these rules. Under these rules, house- to- house collection is replaced with the method of applications for all the people. Finally, section 6A of the citizenship act provides for citizenship of the people covered by the Assam Accord.
Who are the people eligible to register under the recent updating list of NRC?
Anybody who names had appeared in the 1951 NRC. Moreover, any person who has their name in any voter list in Assam up to March 24th,1971 is also eligible to apply. Descendants of any of the above mentioned are automatically eligible to register. Any person who moved to Assam after 1971, provided they have the requisite proof of residence for the same, is eligible. Bangladeshi people, who came into India before 1971 and who was declared by the foreign tribunal as Indian citizens are eligible. Finally, any individual who has the list of documents as prescribed by the NRC may also be eligible to register.
Why is the NRC currently in news?
The only time NRC was prepared was in the year 1951. This is the first time, since then, that the NRC will be updated.
Recently, a petition was filed in the Apex court of India, with claims that several lakh people had been left out of the voting process, as they had not received their voting cards. The reason for the same was that the names of such persons were not part of the NRC, by some reason or the other. Thousands of people, residing in the state of Assam were declared to be foreign nationals by the foreigner’s tribunal. In fact, certain people alleged that even though their family members were part of the NRC list, their name was not included. This means that there has been gross incompetence on the part of the NRC. According to various news reports, a stunning figure of 40 lakh people had been left out of the process.
The NRC has also gained news, as Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee stated that the process of NRC turned citizens into “refugees in their own country”. She even alleged that the NRC was just a mechanism to evict Bengalis residing in the state of Assam.
The process of updating the NRC actually started in the year 2015. Approximately 4 crore people applied through the process prescribed. Out of these, some 3 lakh applicants have been left out. However, this is not the final list, but just a draft. The aggrieved persons may start a process of filing claims and objections, to reconsider their case. the only prerequisite for those appealing is that they must have been applicants who registered in the year 2015.
Additionally, one other reason that the NRC was in the news was the recent report of 2 government officials accepting bribes to gain citizenship. For a process that claims to have utmost transparency.
Opportunities & Challenges to NRC in Assam:
The updating of the NRC will lead to the identification of illegal migrants and rightfully secure the assets of the Assamese people.
Targeted public distribution of fundamental necessities and facilities to the deserving will be feasible for the government of the state and centre.
An enormous chunk of the voting bank will become invalid, consisting particularly Muslims from Bangladesh. This will assist the ruling BJP government in appeasing current Assamese voters by fulfilling their ambitions of nullifying Muslim votes as well.
Assam will become non-violent as the issue of illegal migrants will settle and state development work can begin unhindered and without any fear of disturbance.
Due to doubts about the legitimacy of the 1951 census and the problems involved in demonstrating an indigenous citizen, the mistakes in exclusion and integration while the NRC is being updated could cause injustice to many individuals.
Bangladesh is already struggling to accommodate a huge influx of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims; more illegal migrants from India are unlikely to be accepted.
It is probable that the exercise will lead to significant upheaval and cause serious inconvenience to ordinary people.
The entire logic behind creating a National register of citizens to weed out illegal immigrants is deeply flawed. The process is tedious and almost arbitrary. It is practically impossible to cross verify all the data that needs to reference. Additionally, corruption is a huge part of this process. As mentioned above, two officials were arrested for taking bribes for in return for guaranteeing citizenship. This itself defeats the entire process. Finally, what will become of the people who have been living in the state of Assam for many years, but now have been declared foreigners? Are they to be now termed refugees? This is indeed a thought that the government should ponder and revisit our citizenship laws.
More from us:
BYJU'S Exam Prep now to score better in Defence exams.