Two writ petitions relating to the updating of the tiol Register of Citizens (NRC) 1951 were filed before the Supreme Court on Monday. One of them, filed by the government of Assam, advocated the inclusion of the origil inhabitants, based on the Citizenship Act, 1955, amended in 2003, in the ongoing update of the tiol Register of Citizens (NRC). A statement from the office of the Chief Minister of Assam stated that the government had submitted an additiol affidavit to the Supreme Court requesting it to bring in changes in the modalities of the NRC exercise for unconditiol inclusion of all the scheduled tribes, both hills and plains, and six other ethnic communities, mely Morans, Muttocks, Chutias, Tai-Ahoms, Koch-Rajbongshis and the tea garden community. “Based on the caste certificates issued by the competent authority, the SCs, OBCs, MOBCs, the persons and their ancestors residing in Assam for more than 100 years, should automatically find their mes in the ongoing update of the NRC. Besides, any genuine Indian citizen who came to Assam after 1971, must be included in the NRC,” the statement said. If anyone in the Assam government is of the view that it is only the people of these communities and ethnic groups that might have got left out of the NRC 1951, they are greatly mistaken. There are a whole lot of urban citizens as well whose mes or the mes of their ancestors are not to be found in the NRC of 1951 for the simple reason that most people did not know how to go about getting their mes entered or did not think it was important enough to do so. There were many people who were college students staying in hostels in those days, and their mes are not to be found in the NRC of 1951. One has also legitimate reasons to wonder if the enumeration in those days was as efficient and thorough as one might have expected. It has now been revealed that a large number of mes of citizens were left out during the enumeration for the NRC 1951. Since these people have no way of establishing their legacy, they have now had to get their mes entered as the first me in the hereditary line even though they may be in a position to trace their legacy to six or seven generations. The State government has done well to suggest the mes of certain communities and ethnic groups that ought to get included in the NRC of 1951 automatically. Among them are people whose ancestors have lived in Assam for more than 100 years. We are in entire agreement that people of these communities and ethnic groups should have their mes entered in the updated NRC of 1951 without any difficulties. It is heartening to note that the Asam Xaahitya Xabha also filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Monday urging that communities belonging to the scheduled tribes, scheduled castes, other backward classes, more other backward classes and the tea garden communities in Assam (as mentioned in a few government documents) should be enlisted in the updated NRC without having to produce any documents. These are steps in the right direction. The authorities should also take steps to provide forms for the updating procedure in different languages so that the work of updating the NRC does not got delayed simply because people are uble to fill up the forms that are currently available in just a few languages.
Perhaps the greatest surprise for most people in Assam is that the State government should have made no move to seek the inclusion of the voters list of 2014 as one of the valid documents for the process of updating the NRC as it had threatened to do. People are pleasantly surprised that the writ petition filed by the Assam government makes no mention of including the voters list of the 2014 as a valid document. Whether this decision was the outcome of the strong opposition to such a move or whether the State government was using the voters list of 2014 as a red herring may not be very clear, but the fact remains that a major catastrophe has been averted as a consequence. Had an appeal been made for the inclusion of the 2014 voters list as a valid document for the updating of the NRC, and if such a request were to have been entertained despite the Supreme Court’s acceptance of the modalities of updating the NRC announced earlier, the entire exercise of updating the NRC would have been turned into a total farce, and hundreds of crores of rupees would have gone down the drain.