GUWAHATI: Ahead of the publication of the final list of the government’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) the Assam government is taking every possible measure to ensure peace and harmony in the state. The list of the Supreme-Court monitored exercise is scheduled to be published on August 31.

At a recent conference with DCs and SPs in the state, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal directed all deputy commissioners and superintendents of police to maintain close relations with “influential people and opinion makers” in society to ensure that no “misunderstanding” regarding the NRC process remains among the people.

CM Sonowal is also said to have instructed the district administrations to take help from public representatives like MLAs, zila parishad members, panchayat members and “dedicated NGOs” among others, to make all sections of people aware of the “real implications” of the NRC process.

The NRC, which is being updated in the state for the first time since 1951, is a result of the six year long Assam agitation in the 1980s that centered on the demand to drive out foreigners who had entered the state illegally, from neighbouring Bangladesh in the main.

The three lists of the NRC published so far have left out over 41 lakh people out of 3.29 crore applicants.

The final NRC is supposed to contain the names of individuals who have been living in Assam since before before March 24, 1971, and those whose ancestors resided here before this date. To prove that they are legitimate citizens by this definition, residents must submit government-issued documents from the relevant period.

A large number of people in the state have been confined to detention camps for “illegal foreigners” over the past few years.

At the meeting - a “Conference with DCs and SPs on Law and Order and Related Issues” - CM Sonowal referred to a Union Home Ministry statement to assert that people excluded from the NRC would not be treated as foreigners, and that the extrajudicial bodies known as Foreigners’ Tribunals would be the ultimate authority in deciding whether someone is a foreigner, after a stipulated process.

The statement from the Union Home Ministry also says that it will amend the rules to increase the time limit for excluded persons to file appeals with Foreigners’ Tribunals from 60 days to 120 days.

CM Sonowal also asked the police to make the youth aware about the “right usage of social media” and the harms of spreading rumours and misinformation.

Assam DGP Kuladhar Saikia said that the police will be keeping a close eye on social media activities and fake news.

Saikia also said that there were already some additional security forces from the Centre in the state to look after the law and order situation during the time of the publication.