First draft of “National Register of Citizens” published, Assam CM says don’t panic

Guwahati: The much-awaited first draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was today published with the names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore total applicants in Assam recognising them as legal citizens of India.

The rest of the names are under various stages of verification, Registrar General of India Sailesh said at a press conference held at midnight where he made the draft public.

“As per hon’ble Supreme Court’s order, there will be two more drafts of the NRC and the names of all genuine citizen claimants whose names do not feature in the first publication will be included in it after verification of the pending documents,” Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal told mediapersons yesterday.

Dispelling apprehensions over security, Sonowal said no untoward situation is expected to arise as the district administrations have been conducting public meetings and campaigns to explain to the people the updation procedures.

The chief minister also said the media have an important role to play in disseminating correct information to the public.

“Social media will be monitored closely for misinformation on the NRC draft and strict action will be taken against those attempting to create trouble,” he said.

NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela said those people whose names have been excluded in the first list need not worry.

“It is a tedious process to verify the names. So there is a possibility that some names within a single family may not be there in the first draft,” said Hajela.

“There is no need to panic as rest of the documents are under verification,” he said.

Asked about the possible timeframe for the next draft, the RGI said it will be decided as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court — under whose monitoring the document is being prepared — in its next hearing in April.

The entire process will be completed within 2018, Sailesh said.

The application process started in May, 2015 and a total of 6.5 crore documents were received from 68.27 lakh families across Assam.

“The process of accepting complaints will start once the final draft is published as rest of the names are likely to appear in that,” Hajela said.

People can check their names in the first draft at NRC sewa kendras across Assam from 8 am on January 1. They can also check for information online and through SMS services.

The RGI informed that the ground work for this mammoth exercise began in December 2013 and 40 hearings have taken place in the Supreme Court over the last three years.

Assam, which faced influx from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC, first prepared in 1951.

The Supreme Court, which is monitoring the entire process, had ordered that the first draft of the NRC be published by December 31 after completing the scrutiny of over two crore claims along with that of around 38 lakh people whose documents were suspect.