Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir on Tuesday told Parliament that the government does not intend to extend the National Register of Citizens exercise, currently being conducted in Assam, to any other states.
Ahir was responding to Trinamool Congress MP Prasun Banerjee’s question about whether the government had any such plans. “The National Register of Citizens in Assam was prepared in 1951 as a non-statutory process by recording particulars of all the persons enumerated during 1951 census,” Ahir said in his written response to the Lok Sabha. “The exercise to update NRC 1951 is being conducted under the special provisions in respect of State of Assam under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and the Citizenship Rules, 2003. At present there is no proposal to extend the National Register of Citizens to states other than Assam.”
When the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens was launched in 2015, as many as 3.29 crore people applied to get their names on it. The stated aim of the exercise is to separate genuine Indian citizens from “illegal migrants” who might be living in Assam.
According to the terms of the exercise, anyone who cannot prove that they or their ancestors entered the state before midnight on March 24, 1971, will be declared a foreigner. The exercise has been embroiled in several controversies, including allegations of bias against certain communities.
The final draft of the register, published on July 30, had left out nearly 40 lakh people, including some MLAs and a former chief minister. Those excluded will come under the purview of the Foreigners’ Tribunals and will have to prove their citizenship or face unlimited detention if they fail to do so.
The claims and objections process is currently on, and will continue till December 31. Officials will begin to verify it from February 15.