Guwahati, Dec. 8: Dispur has made more than a “few changes” in the application form one has to fill up and submit to get enlisted in the National Register of Citizens in a bid to make the process “simple and convenient”.
Along with the changes in the form (see chart), the Bhumidhar Barman-headed cabinet sub-committee, which was set up to make the process simple, has included ration card as a document of proof but with a rider that it has to be for the period upto March 24, 1971.
Among the changes in the details of past record of applicant/parents/ family are: The reason for shifting/residing in Assam such as business/marriage/employment/studies and period from which applicant/parents residing in Assam has been dropped and the particulars of places of residence prior to 1971 if applicant/parents name not available in 1951 NRC or 1971 electoral rolls has been changed to “electoral rolls upto March 24, 1971”. “Forefathers” has also been included.
This list will now be enclosed with the six-page application form for the convenience of the applicants.
The exercise had to be carried out following the July 21 protest by the All Assam Minority Students’ Union against the process in Barpeta that left four dead. Barpeta and Chaygaon revenue circles had been selected for the launch of the NRC pilot project, which has since been put on hold. According to AAMSU, applicants in Barpeta found the process cumbersome.
Sources today said the “simplified” forms had been circulated to AAMSU and All Assam Students Union (AASU) a couple of days ago for their response by December 13.
“Once we get their response, the same will be sent to the committee which will then place it before the cabinet and the Centre for approval so that the updating process is back on track. The government has to decide whether it will be for the two circles or the entire state,” a source said.
The sources said house-to-house enumeration would not be possible for want of manpower but officials would be deployed in the locality to help applicants fill up the forms.
Though the cabinet sub-committee is understood to have met the concerns of all sections, especially AASU and AAMSU, the AASU might take some time to respond given its stand that “change in the form will only help illegal Bangladeshis to get enlisted in the NRC”.
“Dropping the place of birth could be a ticklish issue because the objective of updating the NRC was to ensure that only Indians got included. Certain quarters may see the simplification of the process as dilution of the process,” a source said.
The pilot project was to be completed by December but given the procedure and the standoff over the process, it will take some doing on part of Dispur to re-launch the process even before next year’s Assembly elections.
“The government is keen to start it before the polls but there has to be a consensus. Let us see how things turn out in the next few days,” a source said.