The second draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam was published on Monday. The second list includes about 2.9 crore names as opposed to 1.9 crores of the first draft. But the new list has left out the names of over 40 lakh people living in the north-eastern state.
The NRC as an exercise was first carried out in 1951 to enumerate the citizens of India in Assam, their houses and holdings. Over the years there has been a demand from the indigenous Assamese groups to update the NRC. In Assam, which has seen waves of migration, first as a colonial province and then as a border state in independent India, this is a loaded issue.
There have been multiple protests over the decades on the issue of illegal migration into Assam. This resulted in the establishing of the Assam Accord of 1985 that states all illegal foreigners who came to Assam after 1971 from Bangladesh irrespective of religion have to be deported. This accord also fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of their religion.
As 40 lakh people have now been left out of the list – the question being asked is – are all of them illegal migrants from Bangladesh? And if they fail to prove links to India, will they be deported? And will Bangladesh accept them?
Bangladesh has responded to the publication of the second draft of Assam's National Register of Citizens and the fact that names of 40 lakh people have been left out. "Whatever is happening in Assam is an internal issue," said Bangladesh's Minister of Information Hasanul Haq Inu to WION. "Assam is a case of purely ethnic conflict," he added. Haq Inu also added, "Delhi has not raised this issue with us."
The minister also stated that "listing 40 lakh (people) as Bangladeshis is not a correct statement and hope they (India) will look into the issue correctly."
Meanwhile, the immediate process for those who are left out will start on August 30. The process will involve filing a new batch of forms which will be available from August 7 to NRC authorities. The process will end on September 28.