The Centre has given an extension of six months to complete the ongoing exercise for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam by June 30.
In a notification, the Registrar General of India said the decision has been taken as the exercise to enumerate citizens in the NRC, a list of Assam's residents, could not be completed within the specified date of December 31, 2018.
"The central government has considered it necessary and expedient in the public interest to complete the said enumeration in connection with the updation of the National Register of Citizens, 1951, by the 30th day of June, 2019," the notification, issued by Registrar General of India, Sailesh, said.
On December 6, 2013, the government had issued the first notification setting a deadline of three years for completion of the entire NRC process. However, since then, five extensions were given by the government in regular intervals as the exercise has not yet been completed.
"Now, therefore, pursuant to the provisions of sub-rule (3) of rule 4A of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 and in supersession of the notification number S.O.3715(E), dated the 30th July, 2018, except as respects things done or omitted to be done before such supersession, the Registrar General of Citizen Registration, hereby, notifies that the enumeration in connection with the updation of the National Register of Citizens, 1951, in respect of the State of Assam shall be completed within the period ending on the 30th day of June, 2019," the notification said.
The draft NRC was published on July 30 and included the names of 29 million people out of the total 32.9 million applications. There has been a huge controversy over the exclusion of 4 million people from the draft NRC.
The current process of claims and objections to the draft NRC will come to an end on December 31 and after that the final list is expected to be published.
For the claims and objections process, forms are available in 2,500 Seva Kendras in Assam, where people can file their appeal in their respective areas. People can file corrections to their names that are in the draft and also raise objections against suspected foreigners.
The Supreme Court-monitored NRC exercise, aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in the state that borders Bangladesh, was carried out only in Assam, which faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century.
When the NRC was first prepared in Assam way back in 1951, the state had 8 million citizens.
According to the 2011 census, Assam's total population is over 31.1 million. The process of identification of illegal immigrants in the state has been widely debated and become a contentious issue in state politics.
A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the All Assam Students Union in 1979. It culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985, in presence of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.