The whole exercise has been designed around the idea of weeding out “illegal immigrants”. In this case, this was supposed to be anyone who couldn’t prove that they or their family members were living in Assam on 24 March 1971—a day before Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan.
For decades, stereotypes about being illegally present in India have plagued Bengali Muslims in the region; eventually leading to those same biases worming their way into the verification processes of the NRC list.
Women from migratory communities have been particularly vulnerable due to a lack of documentation to tie them either to their land or to male family members who could prove their citizenship.
Even soldiers who worked for the nation’s interests have found themselves left off previous drafts of the NRC list.
Entirely families have bankrupted themselves trying to pay the legal fees to appeal their exclusion from these drafts. Children as young as 2 and 6 years old have spent the majority of their lives living in detention camps.
This is a timeline of Assam's issues with immigrants starting from Independence to the publication of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) on Saturday.
1950: Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act comes into force following influx of refugees from then East Pakistan to Assam after partition.
1951: First Census of Independent India conducted.
Based on Census, first NRC compiled.
1957: Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act repealed.
1964-1965: Influx of refugees from East Pakistan due to disturbances in that country.
1971: Fresh influx due to riot and war in East Pakistan. Independence Bangladesh comes into existence.
1979-1985: Six-year-long Assam agitation, spearheaded by the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) for detection, disenfranchisement and deportation of foreigners.
1983: Massacre at Nellie in Central Assam which claimed the lives of over 3,000 people. Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act passed.
1985: Assam Accord signed by the Centre, the state, AASU and AAGSP in the presence of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. It stated, among other clauses, that foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971 shall be expelled.
1997: Election Commission decides to add 'D' (doubtful) against names of voters whose claim to Indian citizenship is doubtful.
2005: Supreme Court strikes down IMDT Act as unconstitutional. Tripartite meeting among Centre, state government and AASU decides to update 1951 NRC. But no major development takes place.
2009: Assam Public Works (APW), an NGO, files case in Supreme Court praying for deletion of foreigners's name in electoral rolls and updation of NRC.
2010: Pilot project starts in Chaygaon, Barpeta to update NRC. Project successful in Chaygaon. Four killed in violence in Barpeta. Project shelved.
2013: Supreme Court takes up APW petition, directs Centre, state to begin the process for updating NRC. NRC State Coordinator's office set up.
2015: Updation of NRC process begins.
2017: On December 31 midnight, Draft NRC published with names of 1.9 crore of total 3.29 crore applicants.
July 30, 2018: Another Draft NRC published, 40 lakh of 2.9 crore people excluded.
June 26, 2019: Publication of Additional Draft Exclusion List of 1,02,462 released.
August 31, 2019: Final NRC released.
(With PTI inputs)