Going by the look of things, the work of updating the tiol Register of Citizens (NRC) has got into rough waters for several reasons. The foremost impediment to the work has been the very size of the task which may not have seemed as daunting as it has turned out to be when the work was begun. By now, 68 lakh families of Assam have submitted their forms with 6.5 crore documents to get their mes included in the updated NRC. The other major impediment has arisen due to the Gauhati High Court having invalidated the panchayat certificates of 48 lakh people. Of these 48 lakh people, 17.4 lakh have been identified as origil inhabitants of the State. The rest of the certificates are being examined. This was a development that the coorditor of the tiol Register of Citizens, Prateek Hajela, had not anticipated when he initiated the work of updating the NRC. On Thursday, a Supreme Court bench, comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice vin Sinha heard a special leave petition (civil) filed against the Gauhati High Court regarding the invalidation of the 48 lakh panchayat certificates. Once a person is recognized as an origil inhabitant, there will be no hurdle in including the me of that person in the updated NRC. However, the figures given by Hajela have been countered by the advocates appearing on behalf of some petitioners who have asked about the criteria to identify the origil inhabitants, on the basis of which they had prepared the report. Their demand is that the criteria and definition to identify origil inhabitants should be clearly stated. The judges have fixed November 15 for the next hearing of the case. What is significant in this context is that in August this year, Hajela had told the court that he had expected around 20 lakh (of the 48 lakh persons) to be origil inhabitants of the State. If it is proved that these persons are origil inhabitants, it will not require any proof or inquiry, and all their mes would be included in the draft NRC.
Much of the fear generated by the updated NRC relates to those who are illegal migrants from Bangladesh and have tried their best to be recognized as Indian citizens. The fil document of the revised NRC will, in principle, come as a death knell for lakhs of illegal migrants who have nursed hopes of being recognized as Indian citizens so that they can continue to live in Assam as citizens. And even if the updated NRC, with their mes missing from the list, does not immediately result in their deportation, what becomes possible almost immediately is the deletion of their mes from the electoral rolls. If and when this happens, those politicians with whose help they have maged to live in Assam for years (as part of an illegal vote bank) will no longer be interested in what happens to them. It is this fear, more than anything else, that impels such illegal migrants to explore every devious way of getting their mes into the updated NRC.