GUWAHATI: Amidst widespread anxiety and fear, the "complete draft" of updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be published in Assam on Monday at 9:45 am.
The list, containing names of applicants, will be displayed across all NRC Seva Kendras (NSKs) besides being available online. On the eve of the draft's publication, 52 illegal Bangladeshi immigrants were deported to the neighbouring country through Assam's South Salmara-Mancachar district on Sunday.
"Altogether 52 illegal Bangladeshi immigrants were pushed back to Bangladesh today (Sunday). All of them were declared foreigners. They had entered the country illegally and were arrested over a period of time from different parts of the state," South Salmara-Mancachar Superintendent of Police, Amrit Bhuyan, told TNIE.
He said the immigrants were pushed back after travel permits were issued for them by the Guwahati-based office of Assistant High Commissioner of Bangladesh. The NRC complete draft will decide the fate of citizenship of 1.39 crore of 3.29 crore applicants.
The first draft, published on December 31 last year, had the names of 1.9 crore people. The updation of NRC has been in deference to the Assam Accord of 1985 which the then Rajiv Gandhi government had signed with the All Assam Students' Union at the end of six-year bloody Assam Agitation.
As per the exercise, which is being directly monitored by the Supreme Court, people, who entered Assam after March 24, 1971, will be viewed as illegal immigrants. However, they will get a window of 30 days to file claims and objections. Eventually, the final NRC will be published. As panic has set in among people on whether or not their names will include in the draft, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal appealed to people to maintain calm.
"This is not the final NRC. As such, there is nothing to be panicked about. People, whose names would not figure in it, will get a chance to file claims and objections," Sonowal said.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had issued several statements in the past few days saying ".every individual will get justice and will be treated in a humane manner.There is no question of referring the persons, whose names do not figure in the draft NRC, to the Foreigners' Tribunal as people are entitled to file claims and objections and due opportunity has to be given to them before final publication".
So far, there has not been any untoward incident but the perception of unrest post-publication of the draft has made the police to be on high alert across the state. As many as 220 additional companies or 22,000 personnel of central paramilitary forces have been deployed to the state. They are fanned out across the "vulnerable" districts. Assam's Director General of Police, Kuladhar Saikia, said: "We have taken all steps. The sectoral deployment of the forces is already in order. If anyone is found trying to break the law, we will go very hard at him. We are ready to face any eventualities".
Defence sources said the Army had been asked to keep on a standby. A senior Army official told TNIE: "We are anticipating agitations against civil administration. There is a possibility that NSKs will be targeted". Sonowal held a closed door all-party meeting on Sunday afternoon to discuss the issue. He was expected to make an appeal to the leaders of the parties not to make any comment on the NRC draft that could vitiate the peaceful atmosphere.