GUWAHATI: As widespread anxiety grew in Assam a day before the ‘complete draft’ of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) was to be published, the authorities on Sunday enforced prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in eight districts.
The draft will be put up at all NRC Seva Kendras (NSKs) at 9:45 am on Monday, and will also be available online.
On the eve of the publication of the list, 52 Bangladeshi illegal immigrants were deported through Assam’s South Salmara-Mancachar district. “All of them were declared foreigners. They had entered illegally and were arrested from different parts of the state,” South Salmara-Mancachar Superintendent of Police Amrit Bhuyan told TNIE.
They were sent back after the Guwahati-based office of the Assistant High Commissioner of Bangladesh issued them travel permits.
As panic has set in among people on whether their names would be in the draft, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said, “This is not the final NRC. As such, there is nothing to panic about. People whose names do not figure will get to file objections.”
The complete draft of the NRC 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.
Anticipating a breakdown of law and order, the authorities enforced prohibitory orders for an indefinite period in Barpeta, Darrang, Sonitpur, Dima Hasao, Bongaigaon, Dhubri, Karimganj and Golaghat districts. As many as 22 localities in Guwahati are sensitive, said Police Commissioner Hiren Nath.
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.
So far, there has not been any untoward incident but police are on high alert and 220 additional companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed. 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 on him. We are ready to face any eventualities.”
Defence sources said the Army had been asked to be on standby. A senior Army official told TNIE, “We are anticipating agitations against civil administration.”