Asomiya Khabar/Doinik Agradoot Reports :Asomiya Khabar/Doinik Agradoot in their 26th October, 2015 issuespublished news items captioned “নাগৰিকপঞ্জীতবংশবৃক্ষপ্ৰপত্ৰপূৰণৰসিদ্ধান্তৰবিৰোধিতা”/ “এনআৰচিনডেলবিষয়াৰসিদ্ধান্তৰপ্ৰতিবাদ” wherein one Smt. Chandralekha Das, President of Assam State Unit of SUCI is quoted by staff reporter of the dailies to have criticized the use of family tree details during verification process of updating of NRC being apprehensive of causing harassment and mass exclusion of names of genuine Indian citizens on account of the process. The report further alleged that the decision to use family tree details during verification process of NRC is undemocratic taken unilaterally by the NRC authority without consulting political parties.
Our Response : The primary aim of the verification process is to establish eligibility of the applicants for inclusion in the updated NRC. Only those persons would be eligible for inclusion in the updated NRC whose names appear in any of the admissible documents proving residence in Assam or in any other part of the country on or before the cut-off date of 24th March (midnight), 1971, or their descendants. For those persons whose names do not appear in any of such prescribed documents, the only option of establishing eligibility is through proving descent with an ancestor whose name appears in such admissible document. As a lot of time has elapsed since the cut-off date, a large number of NRC applicants are such whose own names dont appear in the admissible documents but they are descendants of persons whose names appear in such admissible documents issued before the cut-off date, and as such claiming inclusion in NRC by proving such linkage/ descent. As such, the primary responsibility of the verification officialsshall be to verify the genuineness of the linkage claimed and for this purpose the verification officials will exercise their quasi-judicial powers to identify false claims by ascertaining genuineness of the claimed relationships.
Mere verification of documents cannot replace this extremely important process of verification of genuineness of linkage claimed. As such, it is imperative on part of the verification officials to ascertain authenticity of documents, linkage claims and personal identities of the applicantsbygathering as much information as essential by way of questioning, recording or taking oral evidence or any written statementof witnessesto determine the genuineness of the linkage claimed.
It is quite possible that unscrupulous persons would try to get their names included in updated NRC by making false claims of such linkages. The only mechanism of detecting such false linkages would be through cross-check of all linkage claims from the same ancestor. As such, it will be absolutely essential to cross check the family tree details of the legacy person (legacy person refers to the person whose name appears in any of the admissible documents), such as the name of his/her spouse, children, grandchildren etc to ensure that unscrupulous persons/foreigners are unable to enter their names in the updated NRC through false claims.The verification officials will therefore insist upon receiving information about the family particulars from applicants i.e. details of all children of the person with whom linkage has been claimed (grandchildren also in case the legacy person claimed is a grandparent).
As collection of such details would be essential, members of the public in their own interest to establish eligibilityare expected to extend cooperation to the verification officials by providing suchinformation.While collection of family tree details is the responsibility of the Verification Officials, during field visits, the public has been advised to be ready with their family tree details so that those can be captured readily during field visit by the verifying officials. The following may be noted carefully with regards to providing of the family tree details:
- The Formatfor recording the family tree has also been made available at the NSKs, on the website of NRC Assam and can also be obtained from the FLO/BLO of the area.
- It is not mandatory for applicants to fill up the Manual Family Tree Form. Wherever such formats are not filled up by the public, the verification officials will collect the required information and record the same themselves during the house to house visit. Since Verifying Officials would record the particulars in the said format during house to house visit, it would be in the interest of both officials and public to keep the details ready beforehand to ensure quick verification and correct recording of information. As such, though not mandatory, it will be beneficial to obtain and fill up the family details in the Format beforehand to ensure not only quicker verification to get ones claims substantiated, but also to prevent any unscrupulous element misusing the family’s legacy data to find an entry into NRC.
- It may not be feasible for all families to get accurate name and address of all members of the family, especially that of the second generation. In that case the applicant family may give detail of only those members of the family who are known to them. While the verification team would mandatorily capture the names of the first generation of the family, in cases of the family members of the second generation whose names or locationsare not known, the same can be left blank. It may so happen that a family knows that so and so uncle has 4 sons but the names are not known, in such case the applicant family shall only mention that information and leave the space of writing names/addresses blank.
- Though it is punishable under Section 17 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 to furnish false information to the Verification Officials, the public need not worry about facing penalty if they are unable to fill up the Manual Family Tree. The Verification Officials shall record the details on their own during their visits.
It is not understood as to how this system of verification of family particulars can deprive any genuine citizen from getting his/her name included in the updated NRC.As such, the allegation against its use being undemocratic or unilateral does not hold good. Modalities also require that the verification process is carried out scrupulously. Collection of family tree details therefore doesn't cause any conflict with the Modalities either. It may also be added that the fact that family tree details will be used as an effective tool for eliminating fake and fraudulent claimsfor inclusion of names in updated NRC by illegal migrants has long been disseminated to members of the public through advertisements published in all the local dailies. Subsequent to publication of such advertisements, several rounds of meetings, discussions etc have also been held with various stake-holders also. As such, it is absolutely untrue that the said decision is undemocratic or unilateral. As a part of the duty to produce an error-free NRC, whereas it is essential to ensure that no genuine Indian citizens are excluded,it is also imperative that no illegal migrants or any ineligible person is allowed to beincluded in the updated NRC. Nobody can doubt that this objective of an error-free NRC can only be achieved through a robust verification exercise.In fact, opposition to any such robust verification process can only be construed as a veiled attempt to smuggle in names of ineligible persons in the updated NRC.
Assam Tribune Reports :The Assam Tribune in its 29th October, 2015 issue published a news item on the death of one Nur Alam, a Data entry Operator due to cardiac arrest in Howrapar GP Office NSK of Dhubri district under the caption “NRC Seva Kendra employee dies on duty”. According to the report, the employees alleged that they are forced to do overwork.
Our Response :Md Nur Alam was a data entry operator engaged by WIPRO for data entry work at NRC Seva Kendra in Dhubri district of Assam. As per report received from Deputy Commissioner,Dhubri and WIPRO, late Alam succumbed to cardiac arrest. The news paper report also mentioned cardiac arrest as the cause of his death though, ‘employees’ alleged to have complained of being forced to do overwork without having any break. WIPRO authorities have already paid a sum of Rupees one lakh as compensation to the family of the deceased and Insurance proceeds, as per norms, are also being paid to the family of the deceased. The family members of the deceased has accepted Late Nur Alam’s death as a normal one and made no complaints whatsoever. The allegation of “overwork” as such is baseless.
Asomiya Khabar Reports : AsomiyaKhabar in its 16th October, 2015 issuepublished a news item captioned “মৰিগাঁৱতএনআৰচি’কলৈব্যাপকদূৰ্নীতি, চলিছেদালালৰাজ” which allegedindulgence in corrupt practices in utilization of NRC fund on account of POL and vehicle hiring expenses by Morigaon district administration at the behest of SaiburRahman, Election Officer, Morigaon. The report further alleged that the Deputy Commissioner, Morigaon too is indulging in corrupt practices by remaining a silent spectator.
Our Response : The Deputy Commissioner, Morigaon has been asked to cause an immediate enquiry into the allegation and to submit a factual report to the SCNR, NRC on or before 19-10-2015. Required action will be taken on receipt of enquiry report from DC, Morigaon. Amar Asom Reports :Amar Asom in its 16th October, 2015 issue published an article written by ShriKeshabGogoi in ‘Vinnamat’ column under the caption “ৰাষ্ট্ৰীয়নাগৰিকপঞ্জীবিশুদ্ধহ’বনে ? অসমীয়াজাতিনি:শেষকৰাৰএইখনেইহ’বপ্ৰধানমন্ত্ৰীমোডীৰআইনীনথি…” wherein amongst others, it is also alleged thatmost of the suspected foreigners from Pakistan and Bangladesh have already enrolled their names in NRC,1951 secretly during the period from 1951 to 25th March, 1971 with the help of certain political parties, politicians and organizations like Jamiyat-E-Ulema-E-Hind who had copies of NRC in their custody.It is further alleged in the said report that inclusion of names of both Hindu and Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh in NRC and Electoral Rolls from the year 1971 has been completed at the behest of leaders of certain minority political organization which would invariably result in inclusion of names of Bangladeshis in the updated NRC that might account for about 38% of the total names in NRC.
Our Response :The NRC, 1951, Assam will be updated as per the provisions of The Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship(Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 as amended.As per the two statutes, the citizenship status would be ascertained based on the NRC,1951, Electoral Rolls up to the midnight of 24th March, 1971 and in their absence, twelveother admissible documents of pre-24th March,1971 period. Even if some names are fraudulently included by unscrupulous elements in the copies of NRC,1951 or any Electoral Rolls up to 24th March (midnight),1971 available with the public or in the custody of Jamiat or Congress,production of such forged documents shall not ensure inclusion of one’s name in NRC.Because, for inclusion of names in NRC, authenticity of every document shall be ensured by comparing them with the originals available with the issuing authorities. All original copies of NRC,1951and pre-1971 ERs available with NRC authority have already been published through DLDD. Hence, the author’s apprehension that updated NRC, Assam will contain names of foreigners to the extent of 38% of the total names does not hold good. Further, any document submitted shall be cross checked by verifying with the originals available with the issuing authorities. As such, accuracy of NRC will not be affected by the facts that some people have submitted their claims by adducing fraudulent document. NRC authorities will ensure that no names of genuine residents are excluded from updated NRC and that no names of illegal migrants are included in it.
Janasadharan Reports : The Janasadharan in its 3rd October, 2015 issue published a news item captioned “জন্মৰ প্ৰমাণ পত্ৰৰ বেহা- ধনশিৰিত নীৰৱ দৰ্শক প্ৰশাসন” which alleged prevalence of flourishing fake birth certificate rackets in Merapani, Uriamghat, Bhitar Chungajan, Naujan, Sorupathar and Barpathar etc areas under Golaghat district. The report further alleged that four to five birth certificates issued against a single serial number are found to have been manufactured fraudulently, which were enclosed with the NRC application forms by people of suspected citizenship to claim eligibility/linkage for inclusion in NRC.
Our Response : The Deputy Commissioners and the Superintendents of all the districts have already been asked to take immediate action for closing down such fake birth certificate rackets if found to be operating in their respective districts and also to apprehend all the culprits in due process of law by the State Coordinator, NRC, Assam. Simultaneously, they have also been urged to sensitize members of the public through rigorous awareness campaign in their districts about the futility of producing fake birth certificates for getting names included in updated NRC as any documents will be nullified if found to be fake during verification. They are further advised to convey the message to all concerned that involvement in such illegal activities is punishable under section 420 IPC and also under the provisions of section 17 of “The Citizenship Act, 1955” with imprisonment for five years or with fine for Rupees fifty thousand or with both. The State Government, too, has issued detailed instructions to DCs of all the districts across the state to take stringent action against fake birth certificate racketeers operating within their respective districts. The Deputy Commissioner & District Registrar of Citizen Registration, Golaghat has been asked to cause an immediate enquiry into the alleged report on circulation of fake birth certificates in his district and to ensure scrutiny of authenticity of all such birth certificates immaculately at the time of verification of documents enclosed with NRC application forms in his district. DC, Golaghat has also been called upon to furnish ‘Action Taken Report’ on corrective action as directed.