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Central team to visit State to look into Cong demand
Spl Correspondent
 NEW DELHI, June 12 - The Centre is rushing a team of officials to Assam on Wednesday to look into the allegations of anomalies levelled by the Assam Congress.In a day of hectic political activity, two separate delegations of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Assam Congress called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. While the AGP team met Singh regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the Congress delegation sought to highlight the alleged anomalies in the NRC updating process.

The Congress delegation headed by Opposition Leader Debabrata Saikia and comprising PCC president Ripun Bora today called on Register General of India, Sri Sailesh.

Emerging from the North Block office of the Home Minister, Saikia and Bora said Rajnath Singh was very positive in his response, and added that Joint Secretary (North-east) Satyendra Garg and the RGI are going to visit Assam to take stock of the ongoing exercise and look into the anomalies pointed out by the Congress. Further, Singh also agreed to seek clarification from NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela in this regard.

The Home Minister assured that the State government will be asked to stop issuing notices by the Foreigners’ Tribunal until the final draft of the NRC is published, Saikia added.

Bora said the Home Minister assured that the names of genuine Indian citizens will not be deleted from the NRC, and those who entered Assam before the cut-off date of 1971 will also not be affected.

The Congress urged the Centre to take steps to ensure that the rights and interests of bonafide citizens are safeguarded.

The party suggested that free legal assistance should be provided to those who are illiterate and after the publication of the final NRC draft.

Not a single person who qualifies as a genuine citizen as per universally agreed upon criteria should be left out of the NRC on grounds of religion or language, nor should any person who came after March 25, 1971, be included in the NRC solely on the grounds of religion or language, the Congress demanded.

However, the State NRC authority has concentrated only on the 1951 NRC and the voters lists of 1965, 1966, 1970 and 1971. The rest of the voters lists have not been made public.

The NRC Authority had directed those who could not establish legacy data to submit their applications along with certified copies of relevant voters lists. However, this type of submission was subsequently rejected en masse.

The Congress claimed that by acting after a one-year gap on the Gauhati High Court directive regarding relatives of the ‘Declared Foreigners’, and that too only after publication of the first draft of the NRC on December 3, 2017, the NRC authority virtually changed the rules of the game midway insofar as those seeking inclusion in the final draft is concerned.

The process of NRC update is being carried out under the supervision of the Supreme Court and in accordance with the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003: Approved Modalities and SOP.

On the other hand, the border police are entrusted with the task of identifying foreign nationals under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Foreigners Tribunal Order, 1964. However, the NRC Authority has arbitrarily attempted to link the two processes with a malafide motive, the Congress claimed.

The State NRC Authority is not accepting certain documents such as land transfer registration deeds and Panchayat certificates. This has created doubts about the Authority’s intentions.

Although the deadline for publication of the final draft NRC is fast approaching, the State NRC Authority has so far not announced any provision, such as a special subsequent list, for those who would file claims and objections if their names were not included in the final draft of the NRC, the Congress alleged.

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