Assam PCC seeks digital NRC draft

Pradyut Bordoloi in Guwahati on Monday. Picture by Manash Das

Guwahati: The Assam PCC on Monday opposed the proposed publication of a handwritten draft of the National Register of Citizens in this digital age, saying the entire process of updating the NRC was done digitally right from the first stage.

“We are very happy that Assam will get an updated NRC on December 31, following the directive of the Supreme Court. The process was started by the erstwhile Congress-led government in Assam. It had also appointed Prateek Hajela as coordinator for the work. Since the entire process was carried out digitally from the very beginning, it is now frustrating to hear that ultimately a handwritten draft of the NRC will be published,” PCC vice-president Pradyut Bordoloi said.

“The first NRC, published in 1951, was handwritten but now we are equipped with modern technology. A handwritten NRC will create problems both in names and their spelling. This will delay the process of update and final publication. Hence, we demand a digitally printed draft NRC,” he added.

The deputy commissioner of Nalbari district, Sanjeeb Kumar Das, confirming the report of publishing handwritten draft NRC told The Telegraph that he had got direction from NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela to recruit persons with good handwriting skill for publication of the draft NRC on December 31 and the work has already started.

The Supreme Court, which is monitoring update of NRC 1951 in Assam, had set December 31, 2017 as the deadline for publication of the fresh draft.

On November 9, the NRC state coordinator submitted before the Supreme Court that 1.23 crore applications remain to be verified, which raised questions on the draft publication meeting the deadline. The Registrar General of India requested the court to extend the deadline up to July 31, 2018. But the Supreme Court, on November 30, asked the NRC officials to publish the draft with the names verified within December 31. Following the apex court order, NRC officials directed all district administrations to complete scrutiny and verification of applications in their respective areas as soon as possible.

On Sunday, leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia, had demanded an explanation from the NRC authorities regarding publication of handwritten draft and had alleged that this was a ploy to delay the entire process. “The decision taken by the authorities is highly questionable because digitalisation and computerisation has been done and the NRC data of relevant years and electoral rolls up to 1971 are stored. Only filter software is required to distinguish between similar names,” he said.

Manash Pratim Dutta Telegraph India

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