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Govt order to "declare" 20 lakh Assamese foreigners: blogger; it's conspiracy to brand 1.9 crore illegal citizens: CJP

An NRC office in Assam
By Our Representative
Will a whopping 20 lakh Assamese be declared foreigners? In a significant blog, senior Guwahati lawyer Aman Wadud, referring to the May 2, 2018 order of the State Coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) – signed by Prateek Haleja, IAS, in charge of home and political department, and state coordinator of NRC – has apprehended that stage has been already prepared exactly for this.
The order, sent to officials looking after the job of scrutinizing citizenship across all the state’s districts, citing an year-old judgment of the Guwahati High Court, insists on the need to “make references” of not just those who had entered Assam after the cutoff date, March 25, 1971, but also their siblings, i.e. “such persons, namely, brothers, sisters and other family members”, wanting their citizenship should also be kept “pending.”
Suggesting that the order contradicts the provision of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and other Rules, Wadud says, Sec 3 (1)(a) of the Act “states that every person born in India on or after January 26, 1950, but before July 1, 1987 shall be a citizen of India by birth.”
Based on this, Wadud argues, “Now even if a person is declared as ‘foreigner’, his siblings might have born in India before July 1, 1987, which makes them a citizen of India by birth.”
According to Wadud, “There are many cases where one member of a family is declared as ‘foreigner’ and the same tribunal has declared their siblings as Indian citizens. So keeping the names of siblings of so-called foreigners pending in NRC is illegal and contradictory to relevant statutes.”
Wadud argues, so far, there are around 80,000 persons who have been declared “foreigners”.
“Let’s assume, on an average a so-called foreigner has four siblings. That makes a total of 3.2 lakh siblings. Along with the declared ‘foreigners’, this makes up a total of four lakh people.”
“The family members of these four lakh people will include their children and grandchildren. On an average at least six family members of each person (considering higher fertility rate among poor and illiterate people who have been declared foreigners) thus it makes over two million people!”
Contradicting the NRC order, Wadud says, the Guwahati High Court, its order vide order dated May 2, 2017, only asked “the jurisdictional Superintendent of Police (B) to enquire into the status of the brothers, sisters and other family members of the declared foreigners and, thereafter, to make a reference to the competent Foreigners’ Tribunal.”
But, says Wadud, the tribunal order dated May 2, 2018 “equates the siblings and family members of declared ‘foreigners’ with D-voters aka Doubtful Voters”, a term coined by the Election Commission of India in 1997 to identify “any voter whose citizenship documents appeared to be inadequate”.
Meanwhile, a human rights organization, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has in an online petition has apprehended that the whole game is “one of a conspiracy of ‘othering’ and exclusion.” Asking people to sign the petition, which is to be sent to the Supreme Court of India, says that, in all,”3.29 crore people from 68.27 lakh families in Assam have submitted over 6.5 crore documents with the NRC to prove their Indian citizenship.”
CJP underscores, “But the NRC recently published a list of only 1.9 crore as legal citizens. A huge number of 1.39 crore Assamese, almost all Muslim, are under threat of having their legitimate citizenship revoked.”
It continues, “Imagine your citizenship being revoked. You find yourself suddenly stateless, without not just a home but also the right to call a country your home. You are condemned to soul-crushing poverty, you cannot earn a livelihood, cannot send your children to school!”, insisting, “Proof of citizenship is just a “tool of exclusion.”

Comments

PRATEEK HAJELA, IAS, STATE COORDINATOR, NRC, ASSAM said…
NRC update in the state of Assam was ordered by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in their orders issued in 2013. Since then, the process is being closely monitored by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India. NRC update is a legal process carried out in accordance with the provisions of The Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 with cut-off date of 24th March, 1971 decided as per Assam Accord. NRC update provides for an exhaustive, objective and transparent system of verification which gives adequate opportunity to each applicant to prove his/her eligibility for inclusion in NRC. It is worth mentioning that during the period of last 3-4 months, approximately one crore people have appeared before different verifying authorities, wherein they have been given fair opportunity to project their cases. This also proves that the public have actively participated and cooperated with the verification process. Compilation of verification results has still not completed. As such, figures of rejection projected by various persons, organisations, media etc are totally speculative in nature. The NRC authorities are absolutely confident of producing an accurate NRC that ensures inclusion of all genuine Indian citizens and exclusion of all ineligible persons.

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