The Assam government has finally published the first draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) list on December 31, amid tight security.
Currently, the draft only recognises 19 million out of a total of 32.9 million inhabitants of Assam as legal Indian residents.
As quoted by the Hindustan Times
, Registrar General of India Sailesh said at a press conference that the remaining names will be published in the final draft of the NRC list by 2018, after their citizenship has been verified.
This is the first time since 1951 that the NRC has been updated in Assam, and this has caused a large number of civilians to fear that they will be deported, as many were already being labelled as “immigrants” from Bangladesh.
According to NDTV
, Salesh said the ground work for the project began in December 2013 and 40 hearings have been held at the Supreme Court so far.
Following an agreement between the central and state governments of India in 2005, the decision was made to update the 1951 NRC under the Congress-led government.
However, the initiative only gained traction when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) used anti-immigration as one of the platforms for their election campaign.
BJP hardliners took support from announcements made by Modi prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, where he said: “When the BJP comes to power in Delhi, illegal immigrants should start packing their bags and leave the country.”
Furthermore, the decision to publish the first draft of the NRC list was triggered as a consequence of over 20 million claims that were filed at the Indian Supreme Court.
As per the Hindustan Times, the names left out of the list will be included in the final draft on the condition that they are able to show proof of links to family members whose names are listed in either the 1951 NRC or subsequent electoral rolls, till March 25, 1971.
At present, the Indian Supreme Court is monitoring the entire process and will continue to do so until the final draft is released.