The entire exercise of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) under the constant monitoring of the Supreme Court will go waste if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is passed, nullifying the huge expenditure of public money and efforts of thousands of people engaged in the job.
A report published in the The Assam Tribune stated that highly placed official sources admitted that the NRC update exercise would be a “complete waste” if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is passed and a fresh exercise would have to be carried out. The NRC is being prepared as per provisions of the Assam Accord with the midnight of March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date. But, if the Bill is passed, the whole exercise will have to be started afresh as it will be impossible to include names of people who came to India up to December 31, 2014 in the already prepared draft NRC.
The report further quoted sources as pointing out that the NRC update process was a massive exercise the State never witnessed earlier. It started with the appointment of the State NRC Coordinator in 2013 and since 2014, around 50,000 Government officers and employees have been working on the project. More than 8,000 data entry operators were also put in the job and so far, around Rs 1,200 crore have been spent.
After a major effort by the officers and employees engaged in the process, the final draft was published on July 30 last. Now the process of submission of claims and objections is going on and it will come to an end on December 15 next. At this juncture, if the Government of India decides to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the whole process will be scuttled, sources admitted.
Official sources further said apart from the efforts put in by the officers and employees engaged in the process, the people in general also cooperated to ensure success of the NRC update process. Even old people stood in queues for hours to collect forms and submit applications for inclusion of names in the NRC.
“We must also appreciate the fact that people had a hard time in collecting old documents, but all sections of people put in their efforts to ensure that the State gets a correct NRC. More than 3.29 crore people of Assam submitted over six crore documents along with their applications and their efforts will also go in vain if the Bill is passed,” sources pointed out.
Sources added that even during the family tree verification, a large number of people had to travel from one place to another to attend the hearings and they did so without any complaint. There were instances where people had to travel from other States also to attend the hearings. All such efforts will be nullified by the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, sources added.