Sarbananda Sonowal says Centre has given a fresh push to ‘Act East’ policy to strengthen ties with ASEAN nations.

New Delhi: Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has said that the task of updating the National Register of Citizens, a Supreme Court-monitored exercise aimed at identifying illegal immigrants, will be completed by the end of this month.

“We are getting people’s cooperation in the task and we hope that the verification process and update will be completed by the end of May,” Sonowal said during an interaction with reporters in the national capital Friday.

The chief minister also claimed that almost all work related to the verification of lineage and family tree has been done.

First published after the 1951 Census, the NRC is now being updated in Assam with 1971 as the cut-off year following the apex court’s order.

Sonowal said that after May, submission of claims and objections for those who are not included in the list will begin, but no deadline has been set for this.

“If people believe that they have adequate proof of being a bona fide citizen of India, they can submit their objections and claims and their name will be updated in the draft of the NRC,” added the CM.

Sources said all genuine citizens — those entering the state before 24 March 1971 — will be included in the list. Those who don’t find their names in the NRC list will be declared illegal immigrants and are expected to be deported.

A total of 3.29 crore people applied for NRC, of which 1.9 lakh names figured in the first draft published on 31 December 2017. While the process of updating the NRC started in December 2013, the apex court directed the Assam government to submit its final draft by March 2018 for which extension was sought by the state.

A fresh push to ‘Act East’ policy

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj Friday held a meeting with chief ministers of eight northeastern states on ‘Act East’ policy, one of Modi government’s key initiatives.

“This was a first formal meeting on Act East policy,” said Sonowal, one of the invitees to the meeting.

He said Swaraj had stressed on building infrastructure and pushing development work in the northeast, which is at the heart of Act East Policy and India’s ongoing engagement with ASEAN and its extended neighbourhood.

Friday’s meeting comes after India hosted the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit earlier this year.

Smart fencing on international borders

The Assam CM said that by December-end, work on fencing along the state’s international borders with Bangladesh will be completed.

Steps are also being taken to install smart fencing, in line with the work done in Jammu and Kashmir, to check infiltration, Sonowal said.

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