National Register of citizens of India, all you need to know if you have left important dates that you must know and information regarding inclusions in legacy data and the issue of GP certificate, do read further.
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register in which the names of all genuine citizens of India residing in Assam are contained. The register was first prepared after independent India’s first census in 1951. In the past few years, Assam has become the first Indian state where NRC or National Register of Citizens is being updated. The move comes after prolonged demand from the native Assamese groups to update the NRC in the state. The demand actually looks apt considering the waves of migration Assam has witnessed initially as a colonial province and later as a border state of independent India.
“Citizenship consists in the service of the country." ~ Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India
The purpose of NRC is not to maintain a database of legitimate Indian citizens in Assam and overburden the already much-burdened bureaucracy but rather to identify illegal migrants residing in Assam and also to determine the citizenship status of those who have applied for inclusion of their name in the updated draft of NRC. For a person’s name to be listed in updated NRC he/she has to either furnish existence of his/her name in Legacy Data.
Legacy Data is a collective list of NRC data of 1951 and the electoral rolls up to midnight of March 24, 1971 or prove linkage with the person whose name appears in the legacy data.
UPDATING THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF CITIZENS
The updating of NRC is the most extensive citizen engaging the process in the state of Assam and therefore a highly structured plan was put in action to successfully update the NRC.
- Setting up of a Technical Mechanism – The technical mechanism required the development of over 20 large custom software applications, over 2500 digitization hubs and a state of the art data center along with massive manpower involvement the figure of which is pegged at close to 40,000.
- Setting up of NRC Seva Kendras (NSK) – When such a massive project is carried out at such an immense scale then units must be set up that is in direct contact with the public. So NSK or NRC Seva Kendras are also set up in order to aid and assist the public in enrolling themselves in the NRC update process. NRC Seva Kendras were set up in every district of Assam and each NSK covers around 2,500 households. NSK is a central point of all NRC related activities and covers everything right from distributing application forms to displaying Draft NRC. Each NSK is provided with Legacy Data in three languages, namely English, Assamese and Bengali for public convenience.
FATE OF NAMES NOT INCLUDED IN THE FINAL DRAFT OF NRC
Many people in the country have already started labelling people missing from the final draft of the NRC as ‘IllegalMigrants’ however the officials are still happy to refer them as ‘Undocumented Individuals’. There have been multiple cases where people from the same family are not listed in the draft and therefore before the complete scrutiny of the matter nothing about the genuineness of one’s citizenship can be ascertained. It is a surety that whosoever is excluded from the draft will not be jailed or deported.
For the time being the instructions to a person whose name does not appear the final draft of NRC is to apply in the prescribed forms in their respective NRC Seva Kendras (NSK). These prescribed forms for the application would be available from August 7 to September 28 and after application in these forms, the authorities would be disclosing the reason behind the exclusion of one’s name from the NRC. The next step would be to file a claim in another prescribed form that will be available from August 30 to September 28 and after that, the claims would be finally disposed of after proper hearing.
The total number of exclusions from the final draft of NRC is 40.07 lakh out of which 2.48 lakh have been kept on hold including the D-voters, descendants of D-voters and persons whose cases are pending before the foreigner’s tribunal.
GP CERTIFICATE: PROBLEM FOR WOMEN
Most women don’t have a birth certificate or didn’t attend school or dropped out before they could obtain a board certificate. Many got married before 18 and hence their names don’t appear with their parents in the voter list but the husbands’ names appear in the list. So the basic conclusion is that the women in this section are short of enough documents to prove their legitimate citizenship. What women can procure is the Gram Panchayat certificate but many of them have complained that authorities have asked them for additional document apart from the GP certificate to prove their linkage with their parents.
Actually, the reason for not accepting the GP certificates is that the village chiefs who issued them had not maintained proper records. Also, the Supreme Court at a later stage notified that the Gram Panchayat certificate is only a supporting document and cannot be considered as a proof of citizenship.
A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R.F Nariman said that “A certificate issued by the Gram Panchayat secretary is not a document for citizenship; rather it is meaningless unless it is supported by some other valid document for the claim to NRC. This is only a supporting document and, for it to be valid there needs to be proper verification.”
STRANGE CASES OF EXCLUSION
The NRC updating process has been surrounded by various controversies in past one month or so. Most of these pertain to some obvious inclusions that have been left excluded from the Draft NRC. Some of these cases are as follows:
- Tayeba Ummi Nazrin hails from Chaygaon and is a research scholar in the Arabic department of Gauhati University. Tayeba, her two brothers, and their father are out while her mother and elder sister are in.
- Shabnam Rahman, a school teacher in Guwahati and the daughter of ex-Indian Air Force personnel is the only one in her family to be left out of the Draft NRC. Her husband, son and everyone else are featuring in the draft.
- Ziauddin Ali Ahmed, a nephew of former president of Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed said that his name and some of his family’s name do not appear in final Draft of NRC.
- Aitara Begum, a resident of Kamrup district sees her husband and five children in the NRC draft but could not find herself. Her father’s name appears in the legacy data but her expulsion is linked to non- acceptance of the GP certificate submitted by her.
- Moinul Haque was deployed by the government as a Field Level Officer to help compile and verify names for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam three years ago finds himself among the 40 lakh people whose names are missing from the final draft of NRC.
- Sepoy Inamul Hoque hails from Majgaon village of Barpeta district and is posted near Roorkee in Uttarakhand with the Army Service Corps. His parents and four siblings are included but his name does not appear.
The cases of that sort in the recent updating of NRC are numerous. Many people are left with amazement as to why their name is not included as they are quite certain of their legitimate citizenship of India. The exclusions include government school teachers, army men, research scholars and what not. Hope citizenship is not denied to anyone who is in service of the nation as citizenship lies in the service to the country.
The citizenry test of the National Register of Citizens is an essential step that the apex court the country has undertaken to identify the illegal immigrants in Assam who have entered the Indian boundary before March 24, 1971. When it comes to undertaking such a huge project involving close to 4 crore people then it is really necessary to have efficient machinery and highly structured plan.
NRC includes it all as a technically efficient structure plus units called NSKs are set up in the state to allow smooth conduct of the process. Also, proper machinery is designed to investigate the claims of the people who are unable to make into the final draft of the NRC. In such a huge project loophole are bound to occur so is in the case of NRC. Some obvious inclusions were excluded and people were awarded sufferings. But barring all this, the step is in the larger interest of the state so let’s support it.
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