Frozen biometrics of Assam NRC applicants cause Aadhaar hurdle

Job seekers and students among those included in updated citizens’ list after providing biometric particulars by June 2019, two months before the final NRC was released

Frozen biometric particulars of more than 3.8 million people who had appeared for the claims and objection phase of the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam are facing an Aadhaar hurdle.

Students and job seekers among such individuals, who were eventually included in the complete NRC published on August 31, 2019, have been the hardest hit.

The inability of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to process their Aadhaar applications has prevented them from getting admission in higher education institutes and jobs that require providing the 12-digit unique identification number.

“My Aadhaar application was not processed four times. UIDAI notified me that this was because Assam’s Home and Political Department had blocked my biometric details although all members of our family were included in the complete draft,” a resident of eastern Assam’s Jorhat town said, declining to be quoted.

He added that he has not been able to apply for jobs for want of an Aadhaar card. The NRC exercise was the primary reason why the Aadhaar enrolment process started late in Assam.

Some students from western Assam’s Barpeta and Kokrajhar districts, who have cleared their Class XII, said they had been facing problems in getting admission in reputed educational institutions in northern and southern India.

Others without an Aadhaar number have not had access to beneficiary schemes despite being eligible.

Awaiting Centre’s nod

A few days ago, NRC State Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma had in a letter to the Assam government said the biometric details of the 3.8 million NRC applicants should be unlocked to enable them to get Aadhaar numbers.

“We are aware of the problems being faced by many in enrolling for Aadhaar. We are in touch with the Centre and they are examining the matter,” Home Commissioner-Secretary Gyanendra Dev Tripathi told The Hindu on Wednesday.

“We shall take necessary steps as soon as we get a response,” he said.

The NRC updating process started under the Supreme Court’s supervision from December 2014. The first NRC draft published on December 31, 2017, had the names of 19 million out of some 33 million applicants.

The second draft was published on July 30, 2018, with the names of 4.1 million people excluded. The NRC authority made these people go through the claims and objection phase following which an additional exclusion list was published on June 26, 2019, with more than 1,02,000 names.

The biometrics of these 4.1 million was recorded before the publication of the complete NRC two months later.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had a few days ago asked the district heads to engage more vendors for fast-tracking the Aadhaar enrolment.


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