Will there be any far reaching impact in the implementation of NRC in Manipur

File photo: Ukhrul town/Ukhrul Times

THE DEMAND for implementation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Manipur would need to be understood and considered with reference to the origin of NRC and its implementation in Assam which is the only state where NRC is being implemented. 

From 1979 to 1985, Assam was in turmoil as the native Assamese people felt overwhelmed and agitated by the influx of lakhs of immigrants from erstwhile East Pakistan which was renamed as Bangladesh. People had fled abuses of war in East Pakistan triggering a mass influx of refugees into Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and other nearby states of India as well as Myanmar. The agitation of the foreigner problem in Assam was settled under the Assam Accord signed in 1985 between leaders of the Assam Movement, Central and State Governments.  The Accord specified that all persons who came to Assam prior to 1st January 1966 (inclusive) and up to 24th March 1971 (midnight) shall be detected in accordance with the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1939. The leaders of the Assam Movement agreed to accept all immigrants who had entered into Assam prior to 1st January 1966 and agreed to the detection, deletion, and expulsion of foreigners who entered Assam after 25th March, 1971. The Assam Accord resulted in introduction of Section 6A into the Citizenship Act, of 1955, exclusively for Assam which allows foreign migrants of Indian origin, who came to Assam after the 1st January, 1966 but before the 25th March, 1971, to seek Indian citizenship. This provision addressed the issue of large-scale migration preceding the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

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As an outcome of the Assam Accord, a  National Register of Citizens (NRC) was prepared from the records of Census of 1951 in respect of each village of Assam, showing the houses or holdings in a serial order and indicating against each house or holding the number and names of persons staying therein. Maintained by the Government of India, the NRC keeps all the important information of the Indian citizens of Assam required for their identification. The objective behind the NRC update is the identification of the illegal migrants who migrated from Bangladesh after 24th March 1971 to Assam. It also aims at determining whether the citizens applying for inclusion of their names in the NRC are genuine citizens of Assam or not. One of the basic criteria for identification is that the names of the family members of the applicant should be present in the NRC list prepared in 1951 or in the electoral rolls up till 24th March, 1971. A person also can present the following documents as proof of his/her citizenship in respect of Assam:

  • Birth certificate
  • LIC policy
  • Refugee registration certificate
  • Land and tenancy records
  • Citizenship certificate, passport, government-issued licence or certificate
  • Bank/post office accounts and permanent residential certificate
  • Government employment certificate, educational certificate and court records

NRC has been implemented for the state of Assam starting in 2013–2014. The NRC of 1951 was updated in Assam in August 2019 with the complete draft excluding 19 lakh people out of 3.3 crore applicants for the lack of adequate documents to prove their citizenship. A sizeable number of those excluded are suspected to be non-Muslims who came to Assam from Bangladesh. The NRC has only been implemented in India’s northeast state of Assam so far, where 19 lakh people, including Hindus and Muslims, were left out of the citizenship list in August 2019. 

The Constitution of India implemented in 1950 guaranteed citizenship to all of the country’s residents at the commencement of the constitution, and made no distinction on the basis of religion. In 1955, the government of India passed the Citizenship Act, by which all people born in India subject to some conditions were accorded citizenship. The Act also provided two ways for foreigners to acquire Indian citizenship. People from “undivided India”

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