Assam NRC Update: Fear And Dismay In The State

Women NRC Seva Kendra
Women rushing to a NRC seva kendra at Kalaigaon in Udalguri district of Assam on Saturday.

The final list of updated National Register of Citizen (NRC) that has been published on August 31 which has excluded nearly 19 lakh people in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam of their citizenship. In the final draft of NRC, out of 3.30 crore applicants, 31.11 crore names have been found to be eligible for inclusion in updated NRC and a total of 19.06 lakh persons were excluded.The NRC is a list of people who can prove that they came to Assam before 24 March 1971, a day before India’s neighbouring country Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan. The first NRC was prepared in 1951 on the basis of year’s census in Assam. It is the country’s only state to create such a document. NRC was created to control unabated migration from Bangladesh. The state is said to have faced longstanding foreigner problem, to remove illegal migrants and arrest further inflow.

People who have been excluded from the final list of NRC will have to appeal against it at Foreigners’ Tribunals (FT)- a quasi-judicial court and subsequently in the high court or Supreme Court.

While a number of people in Udalguri and Darrang district of Indian state of Assam mostly belonging to religious and linguistic minority community failed to make it to the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which was released on Saturday morning.Though the NRC Seva kendras across Udalguri district didn’t witness many visitors ,32 year old Sanju Dutta who cycled to the Tangla Irrigation colony NRC Seva Kendra to check if he and his family members have made it into the list returned but was disappointed and dismayed when he found that none of the family members neither he himself, his father Santi Sutra,65 nor his mother,Sandhya Dutta resident of Hindu Bengali dominated Subhaspolly locality of Tanga town in Udalguri district. “I am in short of words at this moment as I fail as what does this government need from us. I submitted my grandfather’s Post Office Passbook of 1966 and also submitted the court decree of a foreigners tribunal which removed the tag of D-voter from my grandfather’s name ” said a heavy hearted Sanju.

While 29 year old Din Islam who runs a drug store in Grand land Bagicha of Darrang was perplexed when he found that he along with his mother Fatema Bewa,49 his son Tamim Ikbal,5 his brother Najrul Islam and aunt Hasina Banu were excluded from the NRC final list.”The NRC authorities have not scrutinized the documents properly as I have submitted my grandfather’s electoral roll of 1965 to prove my citizenship how can we be excluded” Din Islam questioned.

While 37 year old Rahman Ali of Naptipara village in Udalguri who is a fish trader didn’t open his stall in Kotochowk of Kalaigaon just because he was worried if he and his family makes to the NRC final list or not and his worst fear came true as he and his mother Aaitan Begum,58 and his daughter Ruksana Begum,7 finds themself in no man’s land.

Having used 1971 legacy data, Rahman says they were never made a part of NRC list neither had his entire families’ name in the first draft of NRC published on December 31, 2017.”I feel betrayed as Muslims seem to have been the prime target by this government” says Din Islam.

While for 38 year old Kalimuddin Ahmed a cultivator hailing from 1 No. Singrumari all hell broke loose, as despite submitting 1951 Legacy Data of his grandfather as well as giving land documents of 1966 his father Akash Ali,70 his mother Kalsum Begum ,60 his brother Najrul Hussain 30 were not incorporated in the NRC list.

“What is the use of living in this land where my ancestors have lived for decades and despite having document and spending money for traveling to various places for hearing we were excluded only because we are Muslims” said Kalimuddin.

While skull capped and bearded 54 year old Mohiruddin Ahmed of 2 No.Singrimari village who runs a fertilizer store was shocked to find his son Ajibuddin Ahmed,28 left out of the list. “We have faith in judiciary if no one will listen to our ordeal there is court to seek legal course of action” said Mohiruddin.

While one 48 year old woman Sahara Khatun wife of Samser Ali drowned herself at a well at her residence in No. 1 Dolabari in Tezpur of Sonitpur district at about 9.30 am on Saturday morning prior to the publication of final NRC list. “I visited the spot and retrieved the body for post mortem her death is not related to NRC she was mentally ill as per locals version and all of the family members including the woman made it to the final list ” said Additional Superintendent of Police(HQ),Sonitpur,Numal Mahatta.

Some incumbent and former legislators of Assam on Saturday could not pass the acid test of citizenship, and may be categorised as “foreigners”.

A number of political leaders mostly belonging to religious minority community failed to make it to the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which was released on Saturday morning.

All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) legislator from South Abhayapuri Ananta Kumar Malo and his son’s name were excluded from the NRC final list.

Dalgaon Congress MLA Ilias Ali’s daughter’s name has also been left out from the final list.

The name of former AIUDF legislator from Katigorah Ataur Rahman Majharbhuyan also has not figured on the list.

Former MLA Mazarbhuiya, who had won Katigorah seat on an AIUDF ticket in 2006 and 2011, and now with the Congress party, finds himself in no man’s land.

Having used his own legacy data, Mazarbhuiya, had his entire families’ name in the first draft of NRC published on December 31, 2017.

But, to his utter surprise, his name along with both his daughters and his son were struck off from the final draft published on July 30, 2018.

As all hell broke loose, Mazarbhuiya approached the district NRC coordinators office and was assured that since all his legacy data and documents were valid and justified, his name along with his two daughters and only son would be incorporated.

But, not to be, as on August 17 last, a fresh notice was served by NRC authorities for them to produce before a hearing in Karimganj district and likewise do the necessary re-verification.

“Today, I am even surprised that one of the names of my daughter has been incorporated while, my other daughter, my son and myself are out of it,” Mazarbhuiya said.

“We cannot raise our voices and shout as to why it happened as such with us, as there are many lakhs in Assam going through this ordeal as of today,” said the former MLA.

He added, “I would now have to face the Foreigners Tribunal, but, my faith in such tribunals has completely diminished after watching what the D voters are facing.”

“I would also appeal all whose names are not there to maintain peace and rather approach the legal course of action in the coming days,” he also said.

Shajid Khan is an independent journalist and law student based in Assam. His journalistic works have appeared in leading publications like The New York Times,The Telegraph,First Post. He also pens down analytical commentary in print and web based publications. He can be reached at [email protected]



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