It’s 9 pm, way past the early sundown hour in Assam. But the brightly-lit NRC head office in Guwahati is buzzing like a beehive. Prateek Hajela, state coordinator of the National Register of Citizens, is practically burning the midnight oil—holding meetings with his staff, fussing over detail.
This office, at the nerve-centre of the entire NRC process, is on the brink of completing a mammoth data collection exercise, monitored closely by the apex court. Hajela is tight-lipped about how many people could be left out of the first draft of the NRC, though it’s clear he has an idea.
Mountains of data have been pored over, and flaws zeroed in on. It was labour-intensive. First, the 1951 NRC register and pre-1971 electoral rolls were digitised. These are the “legacy documents” that establish the citizenship of a person prior to March 25, 1971.
The second type are the “link documents”—they trace the bonafide filial links of younger people with pre-1971 citizens. These help link claimants with their ancestors on the...