A day after it released a list of district-wise exclusions in the contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Assam government decried the process of verification of citizens that, it said, left out more number of people in indigenous areas as compared to districts bordering Bangladesh having a sizeable Muslim population.
The list, which was released in the state Assembly despite a Supreme Court order to the state coordinator of NRC to submit the details only in a sealed cover, showed the total number of applicants was 3,29,91,385 out of which 40,07,717 names, which is 12.15 per cent, were not included.
It showed that the percentage of non-inclusion of names in districts bordering Bangladesh like South Salmara was 7.22, Dhubri 8.26 and Karimganj 7.67 whereas non-border districts like Hojai and Darrang have the highest non-inclusion rate at 32.99 per cent and 30.90 per cent respectively.
It is believed that the release of the report is seen as a move to pressurise the state NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela to go for a reverification as the draft report, showing low exclusion of Muslims, goes against the BJP’s narrative.
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“It is a matter of concern that the percentage of names excluded from the draft NRC is higher in the Bangladesh border districts compared to the rest of the state,” Assam Accord Implementation and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said.
The NRC coordinator came under fire from ruling BJP members who expressed doubt whether a correct NRC will ever be published.
Citing the list, they said that this is a proof that a section of people residing in border districts of Assam has wrongly been included in the NRC, and slammed the coordinator.
BJP MLAs Debanana Hazarika, Shiladitya Deb and Numal Momin and AIUDF member Nurul Amin raised the issue during the Zero Hour.
They alleged there was gross misuse of the legacy data in various districts, particularly in those bordering Bangladesh.
“Due to this misuse, comparatively fewer people were left out of the draft NRC in those districts”, the minister said.
Only seven per cent of the applicants from the Bangladesh border districts have been excluded from the NRC draft list, Hazarika said and asked why the sample verification, as ordered by the Supreme court, was not done.
Deb claimed that only eight per cent people were dropped from the draft NRC in the border district of Dhubri and neighbouring Barpeta, while 14 per cent names were left out in Karbi Anglong, which is not a border district.
Momin said while 5-7 per cent of the names from the border districts were excluded from the draft NRC, 18 per cent indigenous people were dropped from the list.
Under the Supreme Courts directions, the first draft of the NRC was published on December 31, 2017, and the final draft on July 30 last year, where 40 lakh odd people were left out. The Supreme Court had on July 23 extended the deadline for publication of the final NRC by a month to August 31.
“We want an error-free NRC that will include the names of Indian citizens and exclude the names of foreigners,” Patowary said.
Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.
(With agencies’ inputs)