R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Feb 10 - The stage is set for the implementation of the final part of the process of update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), that is hearings and verification of the claims and objections filed on the draft of the NRC. But it is still not clear whether the Government will make available the 3500 officers of various ranks required for the smooth functioning of the process within the stipulated time frame.
Highly placed official sources admitted before The Assam Tribune that frequent transfer of officials is also posing problems in the way of updating the NRC as supervisory officers including the Deputy Commissioners, Sub Divisional Officers and Circle Officers have to play a key role in the process. Sources pointed out that the Government has been transferring officers quite frequently and a new officer, particularly the supervisory officers need time to understand the ground realities and the capabilities of the persons working under them as the process of updating the NRC is a complex process and one cannot expect an officer to start working smoothly immediately after taking over charge in a new place.
Sources said that as per the schedule, the hearings on the claims and objections would start from February 15 and the notices have been sent to the people who would have to appear before the officers for hearings with relevant documents for the first 15 days. The notices for the next phase would be sent out only after getting confirmation from the Government on the number of officers to be deployed for the job. The NRC Coordinator’s Office is planning to complete the process of hearing and verification of the claims and objections by June 15 as at least 45 days would be required for quality check so that the deadline of July 31 set up by the Supreme Court for publication of the final NRC can be met.
Around 36 lakh persons, whose names did not appear in the draft of the NRC, have filed claims, while, more than two lakh objections were also filed and sources revealed that a strict monitoring mechanism has been put in place to ensure that no foreigner can get his or her name included in the NRC with false documents.
It may be mentioned here that the Supreme Court has refused to extend the deadline for publication of the final NRC because of the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. In fact, the Court, in its last hearing on February 5, criticized the State and Central Governments for their failure to play the desired role to ensure that the NRC is published on time. The State Government failed to ensure that the required officers would be deployed for NRC work during the elections and faced criticism from the Court. On the other hand, the Centre failed to give a categorical assurance that required forces would be available for NRC duty during the elections. It may be mentioned here that 167 companies of Central forces are deployed for ensuring that there is no disturbance during the NRC updating process. Despite apprehensions from different quarters, the publication of the draft NRC passed off peacefully and security agencies are hoping that the rest of the process would also pass off without any major trouble.