The Ministry of Home Affairs said on Tuesday that the Assam government will make adequate arrangements for people to appeal against the non-inclusion of their names in the National Register of Citizens. A home ministry press release said that every individual, whose name does not figure in the final register, can represent their case to foreigners’ tribunals.

The final list will be published by August 31.

The decisions were taken during a review meeting held on Tuesday by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and attended by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

The press release said that only foreigners’ tribunals were empowered to declare persons as foreigners. Therefore, non-inclusion in the NRC did not automatically make one a foreigner.

“State government has agreed to set up adequate number of such tribunals at convenient locations,” the press release said. “It has been decided that state government would also make arrangements to provide legal aid to the needy people amongst those excluded from NRC.”

The statement said that the Ministry of Home Affairs will increase the present time limit of filing of appeals regarding exclusion from the final list in foreigners’ tribunals from 60 days to 120 days.

On August 15, reports had said that the Criminal Investigation Department of the Assam Police will investigate a complaint that misinformation is being spread about the NRC process. It will also look into allegations that donations are being collected using social media to help applicants.

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 published in 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.

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