Several people in Assam have been served notices informing them that their names have been struck off from the National Register of Citizens after a fresh round of verification. The notice asked them to appear before officials to defend their citizenship claims even as the deadline to publish the final list is just two days away.
Nazir Ahmed, a daily wage labourer from Biswanath district, received a notice from the local panchayat on Thursday. It said his wife, Lalvanu Khatun, has been excluded from the National Register of Citizens. Khatun’s name featured in the draft NRC, which was published in 2018. However, after subsequent verification she was found to be ineligible, said the notice. “FT reject,” it read, hinting at a family-tree mismatch. “If you want to plead for your inclusion in the final NRC, you are requested to appear for a hearing.”
The hearing was to be held in less than three hours at 11 am at a centre located around 10 km away from Ahmed’s house. “There is one day before the NRC comes out,” her nephew Aashiq Muhammad told Scroll.in. “And this happens.”
Achar Ali and Salaha Khatun of Panibharal village also received similar notices. Both of them were asked to depose at the local block office, around 12 km away, in less than two hours.
In Baksa district’s Jalah village, Montaj Ali’s family received a similar undated notice on Wednesday. The notice cited DVD (descendants of doubtful voters) as the reason for striking off their names. According to the family, the person they had drawn their legacy to has no pending foreigner case against him.
Several others have been served such notices and given only a few hours to make a fresh claim. Scroll.in has reviewed copies of several such notices. All the notices state that verification of these people was done under a rule of the NRC that gives local field-level officers discretionary powers. “The Local Registrar of Citizen Registration may at any time before the final-publication of the National Register of Indian Citizens in the State of Assam cause or direct to cause verification of names of such persons considered necessary,” it said.
It is not quite clear how many people have been verified freshly or how many people who were earlier part of the draft NRC have been found to ineligible after this round of verification. Biswanath Deputy Commissioner Pabitra Ram Khaund said he was not at the liberty to disclose to the media the exact number of people who had received new notices. “Yes, I can confirm that hearings are going on, but very few in number,” he said.
Calls to the state coordinator of the exercise Prateek Hajela went unanswered.
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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. An “additional exclusion list” was published on June 26. It contained names of 1,02,463 people who were earlier included in the draft.
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 on August 31. 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.
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