The NRC is the list of Indian citizens and was prepared in 1951, following the census of 1951. The process of NRC update was taken up in Assam as per a Supreme Court order in 2013. In order to wean out cases of illegal migration from Bangladesh and other adjoining areas, NRC updation was carried out under The Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord.
The circumstances that led to demand and conception of NRC are as follows-
The issue of its update assumed importance as Assam witnessed large-scale illegal migration from erstwhile East Pakistan and, after 1971, from present-day Bangladesh.
This led to the six-year-long Assam movement from 1979 to 1985, for deporting illegal migrants.
The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) led the movement that demanded the updating of the NRC and the deportation of all illegal migrants who had entered Assam after 1951.
The movement culminated in the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985.
It set March 25, 1971, as the cut-off date for the deportation of illegal migrants.
Since the cut-off date prescribed under articles 5 and 6 of the Constitution was July 19, 1949 – to give force to the new date, an amendment was made to the Citizenship Act, 1955, and a new section was introduced.
It was made applicable only to Assam.
There had been intermittent demands from AASU and other organisations in Assam for updating the NRC, an Assam based NGO filed a petition at the Supreme Court.
In December 2014, a division bench of the apex court ordered that the NRC be updated in a time-bound manner.
The NRC of 1951 and the Electoral Roll of 1971 (up to midnight of 24 March 1971) are together called Legacy Data. Persons and their descendants whose names appeared in these documents are certified as Indian citizens.
Need for NRC
It will check illegal immigration
It will help in the betterment of socio-economic condition of Assam.
Government can frame policies according to need of the actual citizens living in Assam.
Leakages in subsidies and public distribution system will be checked, thus saving resources for the state.
The precious resources and subsidies will be used for the actual citizens who are entitled to get them.
By removing the non eligible voters from the electoral process, the democratic set up will be bolstered. The will of actual citizens will resonate in their chosen representatives.
It will strengthen the security system iby checking illegal immigration.
The whole issue will get a much needed closure for a society reeling with division and tension since last 4 decades.
Some Concerns Against the NRC Process
People have complained that the government has not made available all electoral rolls up to 1971 in all districts.
One of the oft-repeated complaints is the discrepancy in names in different government documents, caused by misspelling of names and inclusion or nicknames instead or actual names.
There has been concern from Indigenous Tribes who may not have any pre-1971 documents to prove their identity.
Many of the citizens had left Assam for employment or other factors, in the period between 1951 to 1971, only to return later. They are facing challenge to prove their identity in the documents related to that period.
There are question about validity of NRC 1951 data because it was incomplete.
India, as a country which follows the ideology of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, should not be hasty in taking decisions that can disenfranchise her citizens – contradicting its centuries-followed values.
The need of the hour is that Union Government should clearly chart out the course of action regarding the fate of excluded people from final NRC data and political parties should refrain from colouring the entire NRC process through electoral prospects that may snowball in to communal violence.
There is a need for a robust mechanism of legal support for the four million who have to prove their citizenship to India with their limited means.
Updating the national register of citizens is indeed a positive step but the actual success lies in its peaceful implementation. It was essential to deal with the illegal immigration in Assam.But a proper framework is need to be developed to deal with the post drafting issues in the region. Moreover the state government should ensure that injustice should not be done to any of its citizens.