The NRC update exercise in Assam has gotten bogged down in a morass of complications, the most serious being the untural rise in population of some districts and widespread submission of fake documents. It is but a reflection of the State’s distorted polity in which the administrative apparatus has long been working overtime to safeguard the illegal migrant votebank. The draft tiol Register of Citizens should be out by March 31, but clearly it will be an uphill task to meet this deadline. The State NRC Coorditor has informed the Supreme Court in its latest hearing that 67 percent of the verification works have been completed. However, in some districts, only 20 to 24 percent work has been completed. He also pointed out the sharp rise in some district populations, without ming those districts specifically. The NRC Coorditor also complained to the apex court against a deputy commissioner for dragging his feet in the NRC exercise, seeking his transfer. The Supreme Court rightly refused to get sidetracked by such administrative hassles, telling the NRC Coorditor to take these up with the Registrar General of India. Will the coming assembly elections be allowed to act as spoiler to the NRC exercise? The apex court had issued clear orders last month that officials assigned to NRC work must not be transferred on any grounds. So it is surprising that the Election Commission has sought the transfer of as many as 57 officials involved in the NRC exercise, on grounds that there are various complaints against them and they have also completed three years of service in one place. But are those complaints related to their NRC work or something else? Directing the ECI to file a sealed report citing reasons for seeking their transfer, the Supreme Court has indicated its firmness not to go back on its January 13 order. With the NRC update exercise very likely to overshoot its deadline for one reason or the other, petitioners and stakeholders like Assam Public Works and AASU now seem to be virtually reconciled to the possibility. They have taken the stand that a correct NRC without lakhs of bogus citizens is non-negotiable as far as the future of Assam is concerned. This stand is realistic, for only the highest court of the land can guarantee a correct NRC, considering the manner electoral rolls have been utterly compromised with foreigners’ mes by the State administration for decades. The State NRC Coorditor has gone on record that a substantial number of fake or forged documents have been furnished by NRC applicants, particularly from some lower Assam districts. Fake SEBA admit cards and marksheets, fake birth certificates from neighbouring states like galand, fake domicile certificates issued by unscrupulous village headmen — rackets like these and many other have been flourishing around the NRC exercise for months. Media reports have been rife with stories of panchayat, block, district and higher level officials hand-in-glove with such racketeers, of large number people of suspect tiolity moving around from district to district to get hold of fake documents. So the ongoing verification phase of the NRC exercise is the most crucial, the only sieve that can filter out non-citizens. The dimensions of the task can be gauged from the fact that over 6.6 crore documents will have to be examined by around 54,000 government officials assigned to it. To ensure that this task is carried out properly, organisations like the AASU and those representing various indigenous groups of the State will have to maintain constant vigil over the next few months, with the media playing its watchdog role to the hilt on this issue.
Ensure proper NRC verification