NRC Coordinator, AIUDF Chief Among Key Names Missing from Assam's Citizen Register

For the Bengali-speaking Muslims of Assam or the Muslim minority of East Bengal origin, this could be their last chance to prove their citizenship and live a life with dignity.

New Delhi: What links perfume baron and AIUDF supremo Badruddin Ajmal, actress turned MLA Angoorlata Deka, NRC coordinator and Assam Home Secretary Prateek Hajela, ULFA(I) Commander-in-chief Paresh Barua and family members of Chief Adviser of All Assam Student’s Union Samujjal Bhattacharya?

It is the strange fact that none of their names figure in the first draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. All of them have also asked others to not worry about the missing names as the list is still a work in progress document.

The first draft of NRC, which was published on the intervening night of December 31 & January 1, includes the names of 1.9 crore citizens of Assam. The NRC authorities had received applications from a total of 3.29 crore people who had submitted 6 crore documents.

Authorities have assured that there’s no reason to panic if one’s name is missing from the first draft. While releasing the first draft, the Registrar General of India Sailesh said, “There is no reason to panic. The other names are in various stages of verification and as soon as the verification is done, we will come out with another draft.”

Over 1.39 crore applicants did not find their names in the first draft even as people thronged the NRC Seva Kendras to check for their names.

Dibrugarh probably has the highest number of names enlisted, with district administration sources saying close to 80% of the names have figured in the list, it is the lower Assam districts like Hojai (33%), Barpeta (38%) and Nagaon (44.16%), where most residents are yet to get the ‘legal citizen’ tag.

Among those left out of the first draft are 48 lakh residents who gave Panchayat Pradhan’s certificate as residence proof. The Supreme Court on December 5 overturned the Gauhati High Court order which refused to accept pradhan’s certificate as an identity proof.

Thus, these 48 lakh residents can breathe easy as the Supreme Court declared the panchayat certificate to be a valid document. Their names did not figure in the NRC since the authorities did not have much time to update their systems post the SC order.

In Cachar, an area which shares a border with Bangladesh, one Hanif Khan allegedly committed suicide after finding his name to be missing in from NRC. His body was found hanging in the backyard of his house and the locals claimed that he got scared after his name was not there in the NRC.

However, a senior police officer said “we are trying to ascertain if there is some other reason behind the suicide".

The most wanted militant and commander-in-chief of the United Liberation Front of Assam – Independent (ULFA-I) Paresh Barua’s name, too, expectedly does not figure in the list.

However, according to News18 Assam and NorthEast, Barua had rejected the NRC and said that this list is a conspiracy to ‘Indianise’ the Assamese populace.

The whole process of listing the Assamese population began in 2013 and was carried out under the Supreme Court's orders.

While there was a strong apprehension of probable tension and violence, once the list was out, the state has remained calm 48 hours since the publication of draft NRC on December 31.