Friday, 3 July 2015

Assam: Farce of NRC updation may lead millions to statelessness

Updating process of NRC (National Register of Citizens) is going on in Assam. Those who have their names in 1951 NRC, any electoral rolls issued upto 1971 or any other of the 14 documents mentioned in application form are eligible to be included in the updated NRC.

Parts of 1951 NRC and some electoral rolls of pre-1971 period have been made available online and termed "legacy data".

The NRC which is under preparation is not a new NRC. It is an updating process of 1951 NRC which was prepared on the basis of census data of 1951. However, section 15 of the Census Act, 1948 says that records of census are not admissible in evidence notwithstanding anything contrary in the India Evidence Act, 1872. Moreover, 1951 NRC data for many areas of the state are not available. Not prepared at all or subsequently destroyed.

Not all electoral rolls upto 1971 are available. Only electoral rolls of 1966 and 1971 have been made available online. But they also don't cover the whole of Assam. For many areas electoral roll of 1966 is not available.
Legacy data for the districts of the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills, the Naga Hills and the Mizo Hills, which were part of Assam until they were separated in 1972 are not made available.

Apart from variations in spelling of the names and other anomalies in legacy data it has now came to light that names of many people are not found. Adivasi organisations are claiming that around 80% of their people does not have names in legacy data while authorities says that only about 10% does not have. My guesstimate is that about 20% of people of all communities may not find their names in legacy data.

The other 14 documents that can be submitted must be pre-1971 origin. How can one accept that poor people of villages in this flood affected state to preserve their pre-1971 papers. Assam is the state with highest IDPs in the world. Then, there are lakhs of landless and homeless people.

This farce of updation of NRC based on an inadmissible document, if carried to its conclusion and is taken as the basis of citizenship, may drive about 20% of about 31 million people to statelessness.