GUWAHATI: A process to verify the citizenship of 29 lakh of Assam’s married women, mostly migrant Muslims, will begin on Monday. The women had submitted residency certificates, issued by gram panchayats, to claim citizenship and were among the 1.39 crore of Assam’s 3.29 crore residents left out of the first draft of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC), which was published on December 31 last year by the state government.
Last year, the Gauhati High Court had ruled that the panchayat- issued certificates could not be a basis to prove citizenship, triggering panic among such applicants. However, later, the Supreme Court allayed their fears by ruling that the documents could be used to establish the linkage of a person with his or her father but only after due verification.
The verification, beginning on Monday, is being done in deference to the apex court’s ruling. The SC is monitoring the updation of the NRC in Assam. Prateek Hajela, NRC state coordinator, told The New Indian Express that the verification process would be carried out across the state. “This will be a hearing-based model in which each married woman in question will be called to a place close to the residence of her father.
That should be the place under a circle or tehsil where she got her documents issued. The person who issued the certificate will also be called. He or she will bring evidence based on which he or she issued the certificate. So, both parties will be examined together. Eventually, the special verification officer will come to a conclusion on whether or not the certificate is acceptable,” Hajela said. The exercise will be carried out at a verification centre.
Altogether 1,235 centres have been opened, where 2,500 officers will be involved in the verification process. The SC has issued a directive to the NRC authorities to complete the verification process by May 31. There is one more month for consolidation of data. So, in a way, the process has to be completed by June, Hajela said.