Guwahati, February 11: The NRC final list which was prepared through a seven year long massive exercise, costing about Rs 1600 crores of public money has ‘vanished’ from the website since last mid-January this year. For the past four weeks almost access to this data is unavailable. The final list of the NRC was published on August 31, 2019 under the Supreme Court monitoring.
In its verdict on August 13, 2019 the Supreme Court had said that, the list of final NRC should be preserved and protected as securely as the documents related to the Aadhar card; also that the list of inclusion and exclusion should be served to all applicants. The Supreme Court assigned this work to Register General of India (RGI) as well as Government of India, Government of Assam and the NRC state authority. After getting the exclusion list, any person excluded from final NRC had to be served the reason of his/ her exclusion and he/ she would then knock the door of Foreigners’ Tribunal against the order of NRC authority (within the stipulated 120 days).
Shockingly, five months after the date of publication of the final NRC, the reasons for exclusion have not been served to anyone who was excluded from final NRC. Likewise, no person of the state has been served the letter of exclusion or inclusion of his/ her name in NRC by the NRC authority of the state. In the same August 13 order, the Supreme Court had also directed the RGI, as well as Government of India, Government of Assam and NRC authority that hard copies of the List (NRC included or excluded person) should be kept in all Local Register for Citizen Registration (LRCR) offices, Citizen Register for Circle Registration (CRCR) offices, District Register for Citizens Registration (DRCR) and office of the State Coordinator, NRC, as also in compterised form on the website of the NRC for viewing of the general public. The NRC authority has simply failed to complete all these procedures in the past five months.
The RGI and state Coordinator, NRC in its joint public statement on August 31, 2019 declared that the final NRC will be available in all NRC Seva Kendras, all Circle offices and District Commissioner offices from 10 am today for public viewing. Any person who had submitted a re-claim application will able to view his/ her status of inclusion or exclusion in NRC website. The status of whole family was made available from September 14, 2019 according to the official communiqué of the NRC authority on September 10, 2019. In accordance with these this dual declarations, the list of inclusion and exclusion were kept at the NSKs, Circle offices and DC offices and it was published on the NRC website on September 14, 2019.
The NRC authority has, to date, simply not issued any certified copy of inclusion and exclusion in accordance with the explicit directives of the Supreme Court of India. Though the status of inclusion and exclusion has been available on the NRC website since September 14, 2019, this has mysteriously become unavailable from the NRC website from the mid-January, 2019. In the meantime, in another questionable development, the NRC Assam authority has released all the contractual employees who were especially involved in technical works of NRC from January 31, 2020. The unavailability of NRC list from website has created much concern among the NRC included person in Assam. The general public has expended unimaginable resources, spent much time, wealth and labour to ensure inclusion of theirs names in the NRC list, in Assam, since 2013. The hard earned rights of the people are now missing from the database of the competent authority of NRC works in Assam.
In a letter to NRC authority as well as RGI, the Leader of the opposition and Congress Legislator Debabrata Saikia alleged, “it is a mystery as to why the online data should be vanish all of a sudden, especially as the appeals process has not even started due to the go-slow attitude adopted by the NRC Authority. There is, therefore, ample scope of suspect that the disappearance of online data is a mala fide act. Indeed, the deletion of data from the NRC website at a time when the appeals process is yet to start, is prima facie and deliberate violation of the directive issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.”
It may be mentioned that the state of Assam, which is facing long term unrest in connection with foreigners issue, had expected that the publication of the NRC final list to be a near solution to this decade long trauma. The ground level situation of the state is such that educated youths cannot attend any interview for a government job if his/ her name is not in NRC. The selling and buying deed cannot be completed, if the name of a person is not in final NRC. The passport has not been issued to a person, whose name has not been included in final NRC. Not only the in government purposes but in respect of customary marriages, a bride or a groom does not marry anyone if other ones name is not in NRC.
Meanwhile, in a sinister bid to de-stabilise things further, leaders of the ruling party including some Ministers in Assam have been making loud public utterances stating that the NRC which was published on August 31, 2019 is not acceptable to them. The whole exercise has been monitored by the Supreme Court of India. Even the Supreme Court rejected the application, which was submitted before Supreme Court demanding re-verification of 20% of the NRC included persons in the bordering Districts of Assam. Given this background, the state government or the NRC authority is reluctant to allow the acceptance of the final NRC list which was published on August 31, 2019.
“The present NRC state Coordinator, Hitesh Dev Sharma who is known for his biased attitude is all set to diminish the entire work of NRC and it is due to his negligence and biased attitude the NRC list has become unavailable in website,” an insider in the NRC staff has alleged without disclosing his name. However, Hitesh Dev Sharma, the NRC state Coordinator, speaking to Sabrang India clarified that, ”the unavailability of NRC list from website is nothing but a technical issues. It will be resolved within three or four days.” He added, “I have taken charge of NRC office only by the end of December, 2019. The online data has been unavailable since 15th December, 2019 as the contract with Wipro ended on October 19, 2019. On December 30, 2019, the meeting of the coordination committee was held and the meeting decided to renew the contract with Wipro. I have written to Wipro on February 8 and the issue will be resolved soon.” While Sabrang India, reminded the State coordinator NRC that online data was available even in first half of January, 2020, he said, “I have no information about it. May be it was an isolated case. What I have is the information that I have given you.”
Though, the NRC state coordinator has brushed off the sudden disappearance of the data as a technical issue, insiders in the NRC office are of the opinion that this is a deliberate ploy by the present NRC authority. Many people are of the opinion that even if the final NRC list becomes available in NRC website near future, there may be huge tampering and irregularities.
Meanwhile, citing Ministry of home affairs Govt of India, ANI reported that, “NRC data is safe and here is some technical issue in visibility on cloud. It is being resolved soon.”