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'Foreigners' delay NRC update !

Besides poor response from other States, verification of documents sent abroad has been tardy; only 20% foreign documents verified so far

By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Jan 3: While the first part draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) may have been published amid much fanfare on New Year’s Day, it seems much ground is yet to be covered by the authority engaged in its update before the final draft is ready.
Of the State’s 3.29 core individuals who had applied for including their names in NRC, approximately 1.9 crore names have already been included in the first part draft. However, the fate of about 1.39 crore individuals still hangs in balance as verification of their documents is yet to be completed. In fact, there have been numerous instances where names of parents have been included, but their children’s names did not feature, or husbands and children have been included sans wives, etc, due to pendency of document verification.
Now, after publication of the maiden NRC draft on Monday, the verification process is once again set to begin on Friday. The State Coordinator office said it is putting all efforts to complete the verification process soon.
However, that will be easier said than done. For, besides the lukewarm response from other States where documents have been sent for verification, very poor response from other countries in the matter has also complicated the situation. While only about 1.58 lakh documents have been returned by other States after verification from the 5.53 lakh sent so far, only about 20% verification of documents that were sent to other countries has been achieved.
Altogether 403 documents, mostly birth certificates, were received by the State Coordinator office from applicants and these pertained to 37 countries. However, the progress in this regard has been tardy.
The process of getting the documents verified by foreign countries is also arduous, if not complicated. While Registrar General of India (RGI) and State Coordinator of NRC send these documents to Ministry of External Affairs, the latter send them to foreign embassies. The Indian missions abroad then share these with the foreign ministries of host countries, which then share with their respective interior ministries. The process is then repeated the other way round, thereby consuming much time.
RGI and State Coordinator are now gearing up to begin the process afresh taking into consideration that date for publishing the second and final draft of NRC may be announced by Supreme Court any time soon.
State Coordinator Prateek Hajela admitted that response from foreign countries has been “less than satisfactory”.
“The poor response from other countries is an area of concern. We will be taking up the matter with the concerned authorities to speed up the process of verifying documents by other countries. We are determined not to leave out any genuine Indian citizen from NRC, while excluding all foreigners,” he told The Sentinel.
As already reported by The Sentinel on more than one occasion, late receipt of documents sent to other States for verification has remained a matter of concern to NRC updating authority. Holding of a special briefing of officials of the States concerned in Guwahati last year, in which they were explained about the objective of the exercise, has also not helped matters as the verification process from such States continues to be tardy.
Now, faced with such a situation, both RGI and State NRC Coordinator are expected to urge the Supreme Court to issue a directive to such States to speed up the exercise.
Altogether 3.29 crore individuals had applied for inclusion in NRC and 6.5 crore documents were submitted as supporting documents to prove their legacies and residency proof.
Further, 48 lakh people had submitted panchayat documents, of which 19 lakh were determined as “original inhabitants” and were included in first part draft of NRC. So, verification of the remaining 29 lakh individuals remain. Of this, 1.5 lakh are males and have as such been rejected, because the panchayat certificate is applicable only in case of married women as a supporting linkage document. Now, with publication of the maiden draft, panchayat documents submitted by married women as supporting linkage proof will be examined as per the Supreme Court directive.