It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
- Abraham Lincoln
The compilation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has not been a flawless process as those engaged in the preparation of this important document are trying to meet arbitrary deadlines instead of making it flawless exercise. The state has been grappling with the infirmities and uncertainties of the NRC process. Sahitya Akademi awardee Durga Khatiwada along with the family members of Baijyanti Devi, the first woman martyr of the Assam agitation, have been reportedly excluded from the complete draft of the NRC. Along with them, Manju Devi, the great-granddaughter of freedom fighter Chabilal Upadhyay, has also been left out from the NRC upgrade process, a media report said. This has come to light after Mohammad Sanaullah, a soldier who fought in Kargil, was declared a ‘foreigner’ by the administrators of NRC and detained. Khatiwada, whose father Abinarayan Khatiwada’s name figures in the 1951 NRC, is in the excluded list too. The Assam unit of the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangha (BGP) on Sunday last had alleged that many community members have found their names among 1.02 lakh people in the additional exclusion list of the NRC published on June 26. People of certain communities are feeling the heat of the NRC updating process.
When the draft NRC was published on July 30 last year, there was a huge controversy over the exclusion of 4 million people from it. The draft NRC included the names of 29 million people out of the total 32.9 million applications. The names of over a lakh more people were also excluded in a list published last month. The final list of the NRC will be published on July 31 this year. Like BGP, there are groups both within and outside the state which raise a hue and cry over ‘harassment’ of one ‘genuine’ citizen, but pretend not to see how hordes of illegal migrants have usurped the rights of the indigenous communities. However, cry of ‘harassment’ may be genuine, if the people engaged in the updating process, which only recently entered its most sensitive phase of adjudicating claims and objections, make goof-ups. Moreover, the recent arrest of two NRC officials for taking bribes to include a woman’s name has given a new twist to the whole exercise by complicating it further. Under these circumstances, there is a question mark as far as success of the NRC in Assam is considered.
No one can predict now how many claimants will ultimately succeed in getting on to the final NRC. Also there is no clear plan for those who don’t make it. There is no denying that the Supreme Court fixed deadline (July 31) for publication of the final NRC is an uphill task given the sheer scale and complexity of the exercise at hand.