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EDITORIAL

Foreigners getting into NRC

Having first entrenched themselves in the electoral rolls, illegal migrants in Assam are leaving no stones unturned to get into the tiol Register of Citizens (NRC). How brazen such attempts are getting can be gauged from the reported detection of over 1,000 applicants, declared to be foreigners by Foreigners Tribul, in the NRC verification phase. When over 39 thousand declared foreigners can disappear into thin air in the State for years altogether, and then some reappear stealthily as NRC applicants, it speaks volumes of the charade in the State that passes off as detection. With the NRC exercise going through the crucial scrutiny of estimated 6.5 crore documents, the time for abundant caution is now. Reports are coming in of fake birth certificates, HSLC admit cards, ration cards and other documents being furnished by suspected foreigners with their NRC applications. It is an open secret that multiple rackets have been going on in the State in forging such documents, supported by rogue sections of the administration just the other day. This is a mece the new government must root out with iron hand. It remains to be seen how district administrations go about fast-tracking NRC work after Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal last month exhorted DCs to devote at least two hours every day to the exercise, as well as go for awareness campaigns involving civil society, students’ and literary organizations and NGOs. Bofide local resident groups should remain involved in the exercise, for only they can spot people of suspect tiolity slipping into an area and striking root. The NRC authority has also directed deputy commissioners to lodge police complaints against those furnishing fake documents, and there should be no laxity on this front. Unless the administration is held strictly accountable for a clean NRC, it will likely go the same way as the State’s electoral rolls. With around 60 percent of verification work said to be completed, the draft NRC is slated to be out by October this year. Then onwards for the next couple of months, another crucial stage of hearings will be conducted. The remaining half of this year will require close synergy between the administration, citizens’ groups and the media to keep tabs so that the process remains foolproof. By the time the fil NRC comes out next year, it should form the base to bring the State’s electoral rolls into line. There should be zero tolerance to badly compromised electoral rolls riddled with mes of over 40 lakh foreigners. The sooner this is addressed, the better.