In the light of the central government’s decision to publish the National Register of Citizens for Assam on Saturday (31 August), the Home Ministry, which has overall responsibility for law and order in the country, has ordered the deployment of over 220 Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) companies (over 22,000 personnel) throughout the state, media reports quoted officials as saying.
These include 53 companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), 108 companies of the border security personnel, 20 companies of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), five companies of the Railway Protection Force and 34 companies of Special Auxiliary Police.
Assam's state government, meanwhile, has said free legal aid will be given to people whose names do not figure in the citizens’ list through district legal cells.
Free legal services include fees for processing, drafting, typing, clerking and remuneration of lawyers empanelled with the state legal service authority.
The Home Ministry has issued firm orders not to harass or detain people left out of the NRC. It has said not to declare people foreigners until their tribunals, and no punitive or administrative action will be taken.
Assam is the only Indian state where the citizen updating exercise is taking place.
The ministry has asked the governments of Assam and its neighbouring states to ensure the maintenance of law and order.
As per the draft citizen list, around four million people are expected to be declared illegal immigrants.
The Supreme Court had set a deadline of 31 August for the publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) – the final list of Assam's residents – to identify bonafide residents and deport illegal migrants from the northeastern state bordering Bangladesh.
Some 29 million people out of a total of about 33 million applicants are said to feature in the NRC. Those who don't make it into the list face a long battle ahead to prove they are legal Indian citizens.
The government has declared 24 March, 1971, as the cut-off date for inclusion in the NRC. Those who don’t make the list will get 120 days to appeal their non-inclusion.