Barak Valley groups want NRC deadline extended

Very few have filed their claims in view of panchayat polls
More than 40 organisations from the Barak Valley in southern Assam have demanded an extension of the ongoing phase for submission of claims to be included in the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) in view of the panchayat elections. Less than 20% of the 40.7 lakh people excluded from the complete draft NRC have filed claims since the window opened on September 25. The panchayat polls for the three districts of Barak Valley — Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj — are scheduled for December 9. The first phase of polling is on Wednesday.
Absence of staff
The Citizens’ Rights Protection Coordination Committee, representing the Barak Valley NGOs, submitted a memorandum of demands to the State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela through Cachar Deputy Commissioner S. Lakshmanan on Monday. “Since panchayat elections in Assam are scheduled for December 5 and 9 and the counting for December 12, most government officials, including officials of NRC seva kendras (NSKs), are involved in election-related duties. Because of the absence of staff in government offices and the NSKs, people may not be able to submit their claims in time,” said Tapodhir Bhattacharjee, the committee’s chairman. Sadhan Purkayastha, general secretary of the committee, said time was crucial for the linguistic minorities who were staring at statelessness. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has also sought more time for the Supreme Court-monitored exercise ending on December 5.

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