As stipulated, the first draft of the updated tiol Register of Citizens (NRC) was published at the midnight hour of December 31, 2017 just when the old year ushered in the year 2018. And despite widespread fears about the possible outbreak of violence along with the publication of the updated NRC (even though in its partially completed form), there has so far been no indication of any group even intending to create conflicts of any kind. At midnight on Sunday, the mes of 1.9 crore people were published in the part draft of the NRC. Altogether 3.29 crore people from 68.27 lakh families had applied to update their mes in the NRC. According to reports, the mes of several people, including leaders of political parties and students’ organizations, did not figure in the first list. But several leaders said that they were not worried about not seeing their mes in the first part of the draft updated NRC and requested people whose mes did not appear on the list not to worry because the document verification processes was yet to be completed and another part of the draft yet to be published. People who tend to be critical about the extended deadlines for the completion of the NRC updating task and about some missing mes, often forget the enormity of the task undertaken. They also tend to forget how the task of updating the NRC was repeatedly postponed during the 15 years of Congress rule. Had the Supreme Court not decided to issue firm directions to the government about updating the NRC of 1951 and also decided to monitor the entire exercise, the NRC may never have got updated. This is hardly surprising, since a lack of any data relating to the Indian inhabitants of Assam (as opposed to the total inhabitants of Assam including the illegal foreign migrants) provided a huge number of illegal voters who ebled people to get elected without any performance. All that needed to be done was to pack the electoral rolls of the State with the mes of the illegal foreign migrants living in Assam. This was made possible by the fact that the Election Commission of India has been taking the stand that it is an island unto itself and that it has no responsibilities about ensuring that the mes of foreign tiols do not get included in the electoral rolls. In other words, the Election Commission gave the distinct impression that it had no responsibilities about keeping non-Indians out of the electoral roll. In fact, even after the directions of the Supreme Court in this regard, the first pilot project for the updating exercise at Barpeta in 2010 resulted in commul violence leading to the death of four persons. That was the cue for the Congress to provide all kinds of ratiolizations to abandon the project of updating the NRC. Since such ratiolizations and excuses were uvailing, the work had to be undertaken and completed without undue delay. And today, the Congress takes credit for having started the task of updating the NRC of 1951 during the party’s 15-year rule in Assam.
Be that as it may, there is no denying that the updating of the NRC in Assam, with the total opposition to the task from foreign migrants living illegally in the State, has been a colossal and challenging task, and the State Coorditor for updating the NRC of 1951, Prateek Hajela, deserves full credit for taking on a very daunting task and making steady progress with it. Hajela has said that the digitization of the legacy data and banking on it to update the NRC of 1951 was the “game changer”. This was indeed a fortute discovery for someone who had to deal with 6.6 crore documents submitted by 3.29 crore applicants, since the verification of all the documents (a gargantuan task) played a key role in the preparation of a correct NRC. Given the large number of false or forged documents submitted by those who could not be included in the updated NRC, Hajela says that preparation of family trees and depending heavily on information technology also greatly helped in the preparation of the NRC. Now that the process of publishing the updated NRC has begun, it is reasoble to expect that a very vital task will be completed by about July this year, ebling the Indian citizens living in Assam to be distinguished from the foreigners living illegally in the State and seeking to become Indian citizens by hook or by crook.