Just days after Bodos refused to appear before Foreigners’ Tribunals to defend their citizenship, members of the Koch Rajbongshi community are demanding inclusion in the final National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Image Courtesy: Times of India
While sources in the Intelligence department of the Assam government say approximately 58,000 members of the community were excluded from the final NRC published on August 31, 2019, the Koch Rajbanshi National Convention pegs the figure much higher at close to three lakh people. KRNC president Biswajit Ray said, “These are indigenous people and hence we demand that their names should be included in the NRC immediately and unconditionally.” Ray was addressing a press meet at Bongaigaon on Thursday.
Ray also appealed to various youth and student bodies for support. He said, “We also appeal to the All Koch-Rajbanshi Students’ Union, Koch Rajbanshi Sanmilani and Koch-Rajbanshi Youth Forum to be united for the interest of the Koch-Rajbanshi people. This will add force to the agitation for the ST categorization of the Koch-Rajbanshi community.”
Just a few days ago, Gorkhas hailing from the state had decided not to defend their citizenship before foreigners’ tribunals, calling the process an insult to their identity as Indians. On September 22, the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangha (BGP) that claims to represent over 10.5 million members of the Gorkha community across 22 Indian states, announced that they have decided to boycott the process laid down for people left out of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The organisation’s president Sukhman Moktan had said, “The NRC guidelines say the gorkhas whose citizenship has been challenged need to go to the Foreigners’ Tribunals despite a notification of exemption by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). This is an attempt of a few vested interests within the system to disrespect Indian gorkhas who are actually original inhabitants as is proved by our historically and mythologically recorded presence since centuries.” He added, “The gorkhas of Assam will not go to the Foreigners’ Tribunals to prove their citizenship, as being tried in such tribunals is an insult to their identity as Indians. We can file defamation cases against the system of challenging the citizenship of gorkhas and Nepali-speaking people.”