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Assam to delete names from NRC

Anxiety has returned to haunt the religious and the linguistic minorities of Assam in the wake of a recent letter by Assam NRC Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma asking deputy commissioners (DCs) and district registrars of citizen registration (DRCR) of various districts of Assam to delete the names of “ineligible” persons from the final NRC (National Registrar of Citizens).

Sarma – who was handpicked by the BJP government in Assam for appointment as State NRC Coordinator ignoring frantic protests from Congress MP Abdul Khaleque – wrote to the DCs and DRCRs on Tuesday to submit a list of such persons who were not eligible for having their names in the NRC.

According to Sarma, the DCs and DRCRs had earlier reported to him about some names of ineligible persons belonging to the categories of DF/DV/PFT (declared foreigner/doubtful voters/pending before foreigners’ tribunal) along with their descendants having found entry to the NRC.

The NRC State Coordinator wrote that the “Registrar General of India” was yet to publish the final NRC.

“The LRCR (local registrar of citizen registration) may at any time before the final publication of the NRC in the state may cause or direct to cause verification of names of such persons considered necessary,” Sarma wrote quoting the relevant rules.

Sarma asked the DCs and DRCRs to write speaking orders for deletion of names of persons after ascertaining the identity of the person. The officials have been asked to ascertain the correct identity of the person thus deleted so that no ambiguity could arise in future.

The DCs and DRCRs have been asked to submit a list of such persons who are not eligible for having their names in the NRC alongwith speaking order justifying reasons for each case for the necessary action of deletion of such names.

The DCs and DRCRs were told that a software for this purpose would be rolled out soon.

The State NRC Coordinator’s order may put some of the DCs and DRCRs also in quandary as the state government is known to have been unkind to officials who have failed to match the expectation of the government in terms of the number of “foreigners” bagged by them when entrusted the job under a different pretext.

Incidentally, Clause 4(6) of the Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens & Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, quoted by the NRC Coordinator in his letter also empowers the DRCR to include names of such persons in the NRC who might have been left out owing to some mistake. Sarma, it turns out, is interested only in deletion of names.

Nineteen lakh people, mostly Bengali speaking Hindus and Muslims, have been left out from the final NRC of Assam published on August 31, 2019. Even those with minor flaws in documents like a surname was spelled differently in two different documents were not spared.