The final draft of the National Register of Citizens will not be published on June 30 as scheduled, and the date for its publication will be decided after the Supreme Court hearing on July 2. The register’s Assam coordinator, Prateek Hajela, told The Indian Express on Thursday that he would seek a fresh date from the top court on July 2.
Assam began to update the National Register of Citizens in 2015 to create a definitive list of citizens of the state and root out illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. The Supreme Court had extended the original deadline for the final draft from May 31 to June 30. The first draft was published on January 1, and has verified 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore who applied as legal citizens of India.
The floods in Assam this month, in which 31 people have died, hampered the work of the 70 Seva Kendras preparing the register. “Almost all register work at this point is centred in the Seva Kendras, particularly the data entry operations,” Hajela said. “If the Seva Kendras get affected or even the communication to them get affected then its starts affecting our progress adversely.” However, he refused to speculate on how many people would remain unregistered after the final draft.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s ally Asom Gana Parishad has opposed the national register, leading to tensions within the coalition. Assam Agriculture Minister Atul Bora said in April that his party was against the “religion-based register” as it was unconstitutional.
Security forces in Assam have readied themselves to face any protests during the publication of the final draft. “It is expected that no law and order situation will arise during the process but if anybody tries taking the law into their own hands, they will be tackled very seriously according to provisions of law,” Assam Director General of Police Kuladhar Saikia told The Indian Express.