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Covid pandemic hampers issuance of vital rejection order to those excluded from NRC

Guwahati: COVID-19 pandemic has affected the process for issuing rejection order to every person excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam even after the final document of citizens was published a year ago, the top NRC official said on Tuesday.

NRC State Coordinator Hitesh Sarma said that government officials and employees at the ground level are engaged in work related to the pandemic so they could not recheck the speaking order which describes the exact reason for exclusion.

"The process for issuing rejection orders was intended to be started from today, but now it has to wait for the pandemic to subside", Sarma said.

Stating a rejection order has to be issued to each excluded person, he said, the order needs to have another order - speaking order - attached explaining the exact reason for exclusion from the final NRC.

The rejection orders are crucial for the concerned rejected people. They will be able to appeal to the Foreigners Tribunals (FTs) within 120 days only after receiving the rejection orders. When he scrutinised many of the speaking orders, Sarma said, discrepancies were noticed with many not written in the proper way and so he ordered a recheck.

The final NRC was published on August 31 last year by excluding 19,06,657 persons. A total of 3,11,21,004 names were included out of 3,30,27,661 applicants. The process for updation of the NRC in Assam was conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Court from 2013. The NRC state coordinator also informed that on Monday he held a video conference meeting with the district Deputy Commissioners (DCs) giving them a detailed briefing on how to recheck the speaking orders.

On being pointed out about those excluded from the NRC were facing varied problems and are in tension with regard to their status as citizen of the country, the state NRC coordinator said, when the rejection orders are issued those disagreeing with the exclusion can challenge it in courts.

Some of those excluded from the register said they were tensed as despite presenting requisite documents with the legacy data to establish their Indian citizenship, they were left out from the NRC.

To ease the concerns of those excluded from NRC, the Union Home and External Affairs ministries after publication of NRC had stated that exclusion does not make a resident a "foreigner", and that only Foreigners Tribunals and higher courts can decide on their Indian citizenship.

Abu Latif Barbhuiya of Karimganj district who hopes to go for Haj pilgrimage after the COVID-19 pandemic ebbs said he failed to get passport as the local police is not issuing verification certificate after exclusion of his name from the NRC, whereas his family members are in.

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