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Journalists, activists, media houses in ‘anti-NRC propaganda’ lists

With 10 days remaining for publication of final, updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam, at least six ‘lists’ are doing the rounds on social media, consisting of names of more than 40 individuals and organizations, including media houses, of allegedly propagating an anti-NRC stance.

The ‘lists’, which have been in circulation through social media for the last couple of days, are unsigned documents, with ‘NRC: The Other Story’ inscribed on top of each such document, and bearing the NRC, Assam, logo.

The documents contain names of various persons, including journalists, lawyers and social activists, and various organizations, including NGOs and media houses, and are alleged to be part of anti-NRC propaganda.

One of the ‘lists’ exclusively names journalists, with their photos and links to their various news and social media activities included prominently. Sources at the NRC office here have denied any links with the documents and claimed that these were not prepared or circulated by them.

“These lists have nothing to do us (NRC office). The mere use of our logo cannot make it attributable to us,” the sources said, on condition of anonymity. Issuing a statement, the NRC office said it ‘has nothing to do with its creation or circulation’.

A top Assam Police official, when contacted denied proper knowledge of the documents and said no official information regarding it was available. Reacting to these documents, Geetartha Pathak, president of Journalists Union of Assam (JUA), said, “The documents bear the NRC name and logo. They should clarify their position on it. The NRC authorities cannot mark out people for writing in support or against the process. If the NRC authorities are not behind the documents, they should publicly clarify it and also, condemn those behind this act.”

On journalists being particularly singled out, he said, “This is an attack on journalism. Journalists cannot be made into propagandist based on their writings. Journalists have the freedom to write based on the facts they come across.” While the first draft of the NRC was released on midnight of December 31, 2017, with names of 1.90 crore applicants included in it, the final draft was published on June 30, 2018.

Out of total 3,29,91,384 applicants, names of 2,89,84,677 have been included in the final draft NRC, where names of 40,07,707 applicants have been left out of the final draft. An Additional Draft Exclusion List consisting of 1,02,462 persons was published on June 26, 2019.
The process of updating the NRC for Assam, with the midnight of March 24, 1971, as cut off, had started in 2013, under the supervision of the Supreme Court, for Rs 1220 crore. The process of receipt of NRC application forms started during the end of May 2015 and ended on August 31, 2015, and the final updated NRC will be released on August 31 next.