Plan afoot to weed out illegal Bangladeshi immigrants who bribed their way to NRC list

Many illegal Bangladeshis have made it to the citizen’s list by paying bribes to officials who are involved in the process of preparing the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. In some places, the rigging has been massive, according to Central government sources.

Now, the Centre plans to rectify the discrepancies and to re-evaluate the whole process aimed at identifying illegal immigrants for deportation. This comes after several field officials were arrested for taking bribes from illegal Bangladeshis for their inclusion in the NRC. “The Home Ministry is serious about NRC and the same template is being proposed for other states also,” said a Home Ministry official who is not authorised to speak to media.

According to the information available, the government mulls over engaging Class I officers, who have domain knowledge and “experience of handling process of investigation/enquiry” and data checking. The officials selected will be first-timers who were not involved in the initial process.

The Centre had sought more time to publish the final NRC list. The Supreme Court had fixed July 31 deadline for publishing the final list of NRC.

In the draft NRC lists published in July 2018 and June this year, around 41 lakh people have been excluded. Around 36 lakh have filed claims against their exclusion and objections have been filed against two lakh inclusions.

Appearing for the Centre and Assam governments, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the apex court that discrepancies have cropped up in the process due to malpractices by some officials.

“Apparently, there are more wrong inclusions on the list due to corrupt practices by lower level officers. Therefore, we need re-verification. We have experienced this wrongful inclusion in districts sharing the border with Bangladesh,” Mehta told the court.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, while hearing the matter on Friday, said NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela’s report claimed that nearly 80 lakh names had already been verified.

“In such a scenario, why is there a need for a sample re-verification? If we are satisfied that verification has been done properly, then there is no need for a sample re-verification, don’t you think,” the CJI said to the Solicitor General.

Responding to this query, Mehta said the process should be fool-proof and no illegal immigrants should figure in the NRC.