The Centre has given a one-month extension to complete the enumeration process for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam by August 31, when the final list of the state's residents will be published.
In a notification, the Registrar General of India said the decision was 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 July 31.
'And whereas, the said enumeration in the state of Assam could not be completed within the period specified in the said notifications; And whereas, 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 31st day of August, 2019,' the notification issued by Registrar General of Citizen Registration Vivek Joshi said.
On December 6, 2013, the government had issued the first notification, setting a deadline of three years for the completion of the entire NRC process.
However, since then, six extensions were given by the government in regular intervals as the exercise is yet to be 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. 2256(E), dated the 29th June, 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 31st day of August, 2019,' the notification said.
When the draft NRC was published on July 30 last year, there was a huge controversy over the exclusion of 40.7 lakh people from it.
The draft included the names of 2.9 crore people of the 3.29 crore applicants. In addition to those excluded, the names of over a lakh people were left out in a list published last month.
The final list of the NRC will be published on August 31.
The Supreme Court-monitored NRC exercise, aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in the north-eastern state bordering Bangladesh, was carried out only in Assam, which faced an influx of people from the neighbouring country since the early 20th century.
When the NRC was first prepared in Assam in 1951, the state had 80 lakh citizens. According to the 2011 census, Assam's population is over 3.11 crore.
The process of identification of illegal immigrants in Assam has been widely debated and has become a contentious issue in the state politics.
A six-year-long agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the All Assam Students Union in 1979.
It had culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985 in the presence of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.