Even as the deadline for publication of the final draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam inches closer, a civil society group on Friday demanded extension of the time-frame prescribed to appeal for persons who end up as “D” or “Doubtful” voters in it, citing flaws and prejudices in the registration process.
The Supreme Court had earlier in the month extended the deadline for the publication of the draft by one month to July 30 as the earlier deadline of June 30 could not be met in the wake of the flood situation in the state.
In its fact-finding report released on Friday, the activist group “United Against Hatred” said the registration process in the state is marred with bureaucratic red-tape and prejudices among the officials.
“Assam is sitting on tip of a volcano that can erupt if the injustices meted out to Bangla-speaking Muslims and Hindus on the basis of language and religion in the process of updating of NRC are not checked and stopped,” former Inspector General of Uttar Pradesh Police, S.R. Darapuri, said in foreword to the report.
The report cited incidents of unlawful detention of doubtful voters in several districts after proclaiming them as foreigners. It observed that it will be “practically impossible” to deport the huge number of people who will emerge as stateless after the draft is published in July 30.
Around 1.25 lakh people are believed to be doubtful voters, according to the official estimates and many thousand are under the scanner of Foreigners Tribunal and Assam Border Police, the report mentioned.
“If their appeals are rejected in the final instance, they are declared as ‘doubtful voters’…they are also thereby branded as a ‘foreigner’ and packed-off to jail — which serve as detention centres… Local lawyers have called their detention in the prisons/ camps illegal,” read the report.
The fact-finding team consisted of several activists and lawyers, who had visited places like Barpeta, Gauhati and Naigaon during June 26-July 2.
Currently being updated under the supervision of the Supreme Court, the NRC contains the details of Indian citizens of Assam.
According to the tripartite accords signed in 1985 between All Assam Students’ Union, and Assam and central governments, those who registered themselves as Indian citizens in the state on or before August 24, 1971, will be considered the Indian nationals.