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8 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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CITIZENS’ LIST UPDATE IN ASSAM

Anxious wait gets protracted for Bangla-speaking Muslims

HUMAYUN KABIR BHUIYAN
Anxious wait gets protracted 
for Bangla-speaking Muslims

Bangla-speaking Indians living in Assam, predominantly Muslims, will have to endure more anxious moments as the Indian Supreme Court has extended the deadline for the publication of the final draft of National Register of Citizenship (NRC) from June 30 to July 30. On July 2, the highest court of India, which is directly monitoring the updating of the register, which will determine Indian citizenship, extended the time in response to a petition submitted by the NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela on June 29, a day before the deadline.

In an affidavit, the state coordinator pledged to the court that the new deadline will be maintained without any fail, according to the court order obtained by The Independent.

The first draft of the NRC containing 1.9 crore (19 million) citizens out of 3.29 crore (32.9 million) applicants was published on December 31, last year, leaving behind 1.39 crore (13.9) applications for consideration.

The court, in its order, also approved the state coordinator’s notion that names of about 1.5 lakh citizens, who featured in the first draft, will not be on the final draft as flaws were found in their applications during the verification process. But, they will be given the opportunity to claim to be included in the register.

Earlier, the state coordinator told The Independent that about 50,000 people were declared foreigners by the tribunals and they will not make it to the final list.

With these 50,000, about 2 lakh (200,000) people are not going to feature in the final draft although there will be avenues later to make claims and objections to be included in the NRC.

The Supreme Court also directed the Assam state government to ensure adequate security for the state coordinator and his family.

It will hear this matter again on July 31 and applications for impleadment and directions will be considered after the completion of the final draft NRC, if required, on the same day.

The reasons shown for failing the June 30 deadline are inadequate data entry, quality checks by circle registrars, consolidation of central database and generation of PDFs (Portable Document Formats) of the NRC draft, taking printouts of the PDFs and floods in three districts in Barak Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi.

Apart from above mentioned figure of 2 lakh (200,000), no other number is available yet as to how many of the 3.29 crore (32.9 million) applicants will be eliminated from the list.

Talking to common people, politicians, journalists, lawyers and academicians, this correspondent, during a recent visit to the state found different figures from different people. The figure ranged from 10 lakh to 60 lakh (1 to 6 million).

Most of the people this correspondent talked to said that more than 80 per cent of those who will be eliminated are Bangla-speaking Muslims while the remaining will be Bangla-speaking Hindus as they are the victims of

discrimination by the Assam state government, central government and many political entities and people who claim themselves to be the original inhabitants of Assam.     

As the Bangla-speaking Hindus have the blessings of the central government, some entities of the BJP-led government and ‘many original Assamese Hindus’, they are less vulnerable.

On the other hand, Muslims are much more vulnerable due to the absence of such blessings despite the fact that more than one third of the Assam’s population are Muslims.

It’s the Bangla-speaking Muslims that are passing an anxious time due to the prospect of being eliminated from the final list ‘unfairly’.  

When asked as to how many people may be dropped from the final draft, Hajela declined to specify any number.

“Look, it is a very sensitive matter having effect on a lot of people, therefore, it will not be right to give any number before the publication of the draft,” he told The Independent over phone from Assam on June 27.

“Not having names on the draft is not the final outcome. There are mechanisms to be included and excluded later when the claims and objections will be disposed of,” he reminded.

To a question, NRC state coordinator Hajela claimed that the process of updating is transparent and unbiased. “I have been tasked with identifying Indian citizens and I and my colleagues are exactly doing the same,” he said. When contacted, senior diplomats said that they believe this is an ‘internal political issue of India that is unfortunately relating Bangladesh’.  Never ever at any talks between the two countries, this issue was raised by the Indians, they reminded.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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