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Online petition roasting NRC goes viral

Counter-move clarifies update bid doesn't target religion

Officials at a NRC Seva Kendra in Guwahati on Tuesday. (Manash Das)

Guwahati: An online petition calling the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) 1951 update process in Assam "a ploy" to delete Muslim applicants' names and fast going viral has led officials in charge of the "historic" exercise here to suspect the involvement of an international network.

"Over 2.5 lakh applicants from across the world has already signed it and the number is increasing every minute. It is going viral so fast that more than one lakh persons tweeted it in just four hours on Monday night. Around 2am on Tuesday, hundreds of Chinese tweets were observed regarding the petition. Although we have not yet been able to identify the persons who have started the petition, it seems to be a very well-organised international network which is trying to create confusion regarding the NRC," Prateek Hajela, state co-ordinator of NRC, told The Telegraph on Tuesday afternoon.

Around 1pm on Monday, the social media team of the NRC office here noticed the petition titled "India: Stop Deleting Muslims" on Avaaz, a campaigning community portal. Thousands from across the world started signing the petition in minutes and it was shared on twitter and Facebook. "We urge you to issue an early warning about the publication of the NRC in Assam state in India - which will lead to mass violence, ethnic cleansing and the transfer of minority Muslims to prison camps for life. As global citizens, we ask the UN and other concerned governments to work with India and Bangladesh to ensure there is scrutiny over the NRC process, that it complies with human rights standards and that no one is left stateless," said the petition on Avaaaz.

The NRC office immediately launched an online petition to counter the Avaaz petition and its social media team started replying to the posts on twitter and Facebook, clarifying that the NRC was being updated to detect foreigners and it was not targeted to any religion or community.

"Our efforts to counter it online are on but we have exhausted our capacity to do so," Hajela, who is also being "mercilessly rebuked" by those signing the petition and those sharing and commenting, said.

"The NRC update is being carried out in Assam under the provisions of Indian laws and that too under close supervision of the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court. Those persons whose names do not appear on the list will be given an opportunity to apply again through disposal of claims and objections. Even after publication of the final list, any applicant will have legal right for judicial intervention through approaching Foreigner Tribunals before being declared a foreigner," said the counter-petition of the NRC office, which targets five lakh signatures.

The NRC is being updated in Assam under the supervision of the Supreme Court with March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date agreed in the 1985 Assam Accord, in order to detect foreigners. A draft with 1.9 crore of 3.29 crore total applicants was released on December 30 while the final draft is slated for release on July 30.

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