Even as 30 lakh of the 40 lakh people left out of Assam’s draft National Register of Citizens made fresh claims of citizenship before the deadline of December 31, more than 2.5 lakh objections have been filed against people who were included in the roster. Almost all of these objections were filed on the last day of the “Claims and Objections” round, said officials. “Before yesterday, the number was less than 600,” said an NRC official who did not want to be identified. “The number increased to 2.6 lakh on the last day, we are still counting but the final tally should not significantly change.”

Claims and objections

About 2.89 crore of the 3.3 crore people who applied to be included in the National Register of Citizens – a roster of bona fide Indian citizens in Assam – have made it so far. To be included in the citizenry list, an individual has to prove that they or their ancestors entered the country before midnight on March 24, 1971.

Those who did not make it to the draft list were given time from September 15 to December 31 to make yet another claim for inclusion.

A slow start

The rules also allowed for people to make an objection against those included in the final draft.

However, few objections were filed in more than three months – until the day of the deadline.

In December, Assamese nationalist groups told Scroll.in that the rules of the exercise did not facilitate filing of objections. Most of these objections until the ones filed en masse on December 31 stemmed from family feuds.

The charge of the All Assam Students’ Union

What explains the turnaround? According to NRC officials, it was led by the All Assam Students’ Union, which had spearheaded the anti-foreigners’ agitation in 1979, which culminated in the Assam Accord of 1985. The definition of a foreigner used in the NRC exercise flows from the Accord. “AASU procured objection forms en masse last week,” said an NRC official based in a western Assam district where over 1500 objections were filed on the last day. “Almost all of these objections were filed by them.”

The most common grounds that were cited in the objections were dubious legacy data and linkage documents, said the official. In short, the complaints have alleged that people have used forged documents to show themselves descendants of Indian citizens.

The All Assam Students’ Union’s general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said the outfit did not file objections as an organisation, but instead did a “mass mobilisation” of people. “We showed people the way,” he said, “by teaching them how to do it.” Gogoi conceded that some of its current and former office bearers “may have also filed” objections personally. He said the group aimed to filed around three lakh objections. “The moment we file an objection against one person, his family automatically gets implicated,” he said. “So, the total number should be around 15 lakhs.”

While a district-wise break-up of the objections filed is not available, officials said the Lower Assam district of Barpeta, where Muslims account for over 70 % of the population, saw a flurry of objections being filed on Monday. Barpeta Deputy Commissioner Thaneswar Malakar confirmed this estimate. “Over 70 thousand objections have been filed in the last day or two,” he said.