Indian External Affairs Ministry quashes rumours, alleged ‘misinformation' about NRC

World Thursday 05/September/2019 13:49 PM
By: Times News Service
Indian External Affairs Ministry quashes rumours, alleged ‘misinformation' about NRC

Dispur: Quashing rumours being circulated on social media and alleged ‘misinformation’ being peddled by International news outlets, the Indian External Affairs ministry (MEA) has released a statement that clarifies the government’s stance on the issue of the release of NRC’s latest list regarding Assam.

On 31 August, 2019, the Indian government published its final National Register of Citizens (NRC) list for the north-eastern state of Assam which some said ‘effectively stripped over 1.9 million people in the state of their citizenship.’

The NRC is a list of people who can prove they came to the state by 24 March 1971, a day before neighbouring Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan.

However the office of the State Coordinator, NRC Assam released a press statement on the publication of the final NRC as on 31st August 2019.

The MEA statement claims that "Since then, there have been commentaries in sections of the foreign media about aspects of the final NRC which are incorrect.”

The register has been updated for the first time in over 50 years.

"Updating of NRC is a statutory, transparent, legal process mandated by the Honourable Supreme Court of India. This is not an executive-driven process. The process is being monitored by the Supreme Court directly and the government is acting in accordance with the directives issued by the court. The apex court of the land has itself set the deadlines for all steps that have been taken so far.

"NRC is a fair process based on scientific methods. Inclusion in the NRC is a unique process, as it is based on “application” rather than “house to house enumeration”. It means that any person in Assam could have sought to be included in the list on the basis of having documentation to prove lineage from an entitled person, i.e. a person who was a resident of Assam as on March 24, 1971.

"It is a non-discriminatory process, which leaves no room for bias and injustice. As can be seen from the application form for data entry in NRC, there was no column in the application asking for the religion of the applicant,” the statement added.

"Giving background on the situation, the statement said, “The Government of India signed the Assam Accord in 1985 with the promise to take care of the interests of the citizens of Assam. NRC aims to give effect to the Assam Accord signed in 1985 between the Government of India, State Government of Assam, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and All Assam Gan Sangram Parishad (AAGSP). Supreme Court of India mandated the government to deliver on the commitment in 2013. This led to the process of updating the National Register of Citizens in Assam in 2015.”

Residents excluded from the list can appeal to the specially-formed courts called Foreigners Tribunals, as well as the high court and Supreme Court.

Clarifying the government’s stance on this issue, the MEA’s statement said, "Anyone excluded from the list at this stage has a right to file an appeal within 120 days of receiving a notification of exclusion to the designated Tribunal. All appeals and excluded cases will be examined by this Tribunal i.e. a judicial process. This judicial process will commence only after the appellate period is over. Thereafter, anyone still aggrieved by any decision of being excluded will have the right to approach the High Court of Assam and then the Supreme Court."

The statement emphasised on the fact that rather than falling prey to rumours being spread on social media and ‘misinformation’ being circulated by International media houses, the people should only refer to the information being shared by official Indian Government channels.

"Exclusion from the NRC has no implication on the rights of an individual resident in Assam. For those who are not in the final list will not be detained and will continue to enjoy all the rights as before till they have exhausted all the remedies available under the law. It does not make the excluded person “Stateless”. It also does not make him or her a “Foreigner”, within the legal meaning of the term. They will not be deprived of any rights or entitlements which they have enjoyed before,” the statement added.

"The government of India will even assist in providing directions on how to deal with such appeals. Through the District Legal Service Authorities, the government has provisioned to extend legal aid to the needy. The State of Assam has assured provision of free legal assistance to any person excluded from the list and who is unable to afford such legal assistance. This is to enable people, especially the disadvantaged sections, to have access to the best possible legal assistance.

To expedite the process of receiving applications for inclusion, the State Government is further adding 200 tribunals to the existing 100 tribunals. A further 200 more tribunals will be set up by the State of Assam by December 2019. These Tribunals will be set up at Block level for the convenience of appellants,” the statement concluded.