New Delhi, March 18: The exercise of revising the National Register of Citizens (NRC) 1951 in Assam began today.
Government sources here said the modalities had been worked out and the Assam home secretary and the additional Registrar General of India (RGI) were preparing a detailed budget proposal.
“This marks the beginning of the exercise,” a senior government official said after a meeting of officials from the Assam government and the home ministry here.
The two-phase exercise will start in Sivasagar, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Golaghat, Nagaon and Sonitpur districts in accordance with the recommendations of a report submitted by a group of ministers of the Assam government last year, the sources said.
Government officers and private organisations will be engaged to hold camps in villages and urban areas to collect bio-metric details (fingerprints and iris scan) and the respondents will answer a number of questions on a form.
The NRC revision may be dovetailed with the exercise of conducting the National Population Register (NPR), which is a pre-requisite to any enumeration of the citizens of India. The NPR is a countrywide mandatory exercise of the ministry of home affairs and is conducted by the RGI. However, no deadline has been set for commencing work on the ground in view of the logistical needs.
The exercise is sought to be made as non-intrusive as possible in light of previous experiences and recommendations from the state government, the sources said. The seven districts have been chosen as minimum opposition is expected in these locations.
The RGI had in 2010 notified for a pilot project for updating the NRC in the Barpeta revenue circle in Barpeta and Chaygaon revenue circle in Kamrup district. But the opposition that ensued ended in mob violence and death of four people following which the project was suspended. The deaths were in police firing after the All Assam Minority Students’ Union had protested on July 21, 2010 against alleged anomalies in the enumeration process.
The government has since had cold feet on starting the process, especially in areas where there is likelihood of a communal backlash.
The exercise is a result of an Assam Assembly resolution of 2010 according to which the Centre was to update the NRC with 1971 electoral rolls as the basis.
The Assam cabinet had approved a sub-committee’s report on the NRC on August 16 last year. Following that clearance, the state government approached the Union home ministry and the RGI to issue a fresh notification for updating the NRC.