Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Thursday justified his government’s decision to file an appeal in the Supreme Court for sample re-verification of the draft National Register of Citizens exercise, saying the petition was registered to ensure an error-free document, PTI reported.
He made these comments while hoisting the national flag at a function to celebrate India’s 73rd Independence Day. He said the state government was committed to ensure the safety of every genuine Indian citizen in Assam.
On August 1, Assam’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary had said the rate of exclusion in the districts bordering Bangladesh was less than the state average. This, the government argued, was proof that people had wrongly been included in the register.
“For the sake of a correct and error-free NRC, our government had appealed to the honourable Supreme Court for re-verification of the NRC update process,” Sonowal said.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to reopen the National Register of Citizens exercise. Last month, the top court had extended the deadline for the publication of the final NRC from July 31 to August 31 but declined the Centre and Assam government’s petitions seeking time to conduct a “sample re-verification process”.
“We hope that once the Supreme Court-monitored process is complete, the people of Assam will get a historic document, where no foreigner will find a place and no Indian will be left out,” the chief minister added. He said the state government had fully cooperated with authorities preparing the document.
The stated aim of the National Register of Citizens is to separate genuine Indian citizens from undocumented immigrants living in the state. According to its terms, anyone who cannot prove that they or their ancestors entered Assam before midnight on March 24, 1971, will be declared a foreigner.
More than 40 lakh people were excluded from the final draft in July 2018. Those who did not make the draft list were allowed to make one last claim for inclusion before the publication of the final consolidated list. Authorities also allowed objections to be filed against people included in the final draft. The exercise has been embroiled in several controversies, including allegations of bias against certain communities.
An “additional exclusion list” was published on June 26. It contained names of 1,02,463 people who were earlier included in the draft.