NRC re-verification to cover Muslim dominated districts?

Guwahati, September 3: A significant chunk of the developmental and administrative work has been in a state of paralysis in Assam for the last four years. It has been in limbo because a quarter of the state’s total workforce including employees, huge sections of bureaucrats, Government officials etc. have been engaged in updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

But it is not just the administration. Ordinary people who have to earn a livelihood, have had to put many professional commitments on the back-burner and prioritise sorting out their documentation. In fact, people of all ages, including minors and senior citizens have had to get their paperwork in order, just to get on the coveted list!
Barring a few Adivasis and tribal people, and some other groups of people, whom a LRCR of a NSK feels to be indigenous and consented for inclusion of such people into updated NRC, all others have had to run from pillar to post and even travel long distances to collect the prescribed documents, submit them in the prescribed form before the competent authority and also for hearings in case of disputed citizenship! Needless to say this has led to a lot of expenditure as well, which obviously adds to the turbulence in their personal and professional lives.
Mostly, Minority Muslims, Bengali speaking Hindus, Gorkhas, other Indians whose roots may be outside or inside Assam, had to face such endless harassment. Every one of these groups of people, eagerly co-operated the NRC Authority hoping that after finalisation of the updated NRC, they would able to settle the matter of being labelled ‘Foreigner’ or ‘Bangladeshi’.
But they found their hopes shattered when their names did not appear in the final draft NRC published on July 30, 2018 despite jumping through all the hoops. And while a fraction of these people could not submit genuine documents or made some mistakes in filling their forms or submitting their genuine documents, a majority of the People dropped from the draft NRC claim to have submitted all possible and genuine documents.
Even then, none of these excluded people reacted in any extreme manner because they felt that given how several family members had already made it to the list, it was just a matter of going through the claims and objections process and they would be in too!
Rohit Das, a small tea stall vendor of Bijni under Chirang District says, “We have been moving all over the state with all sorts of just and genuine documents for the last four years. I have submitted all documents including legacy data of NRC, 1951. But all the family members other than three appeared in the final draft NRC. Two minor children and a married daughter missed their names from the final draft NRC. Still I was expecting that their names must be appeared in the final NRC which was expected to come out by January next year.”
But, after the hearing of Supreme Court on August 28, 2018, the court has directed that 10 per cent of the names dropped from the list be re-verified. But this has led to confusion and anxiety among people. Says Das, “It surprising that Supreme Court has ordered a random verification of 10% names which appeared in the final draft NRC. When and where will this verification be done? Which groups of people will be covered?”
Though the Supreme Court order didn’t specify the groups of people to be covered during ‘random’ re-verification, unofficial sources familiar with the workings of the NRC Authority, say that the random verification will cover only 12 border districts of Assam. But, here’s where it gets interesting. Assam has exactly three districts bordering Bangladesh; Karimganj, South Salmara – Mancachar and Dhubri!
However, according to the same sources, the 12 districts where random verification will be done are allegedly those where Minority Muslims are above 50% of the total population. This is not as per the Supreme Court’s August 28 order, because the SC had not specified that minority dominated districts be chosen for re-verification. If this happens, then it will prove that Minority Muslims and the Bengali speaking people are targeted in the name of updating NRC. All eyes are now on the final directives of the Supreme Court so that the democratic and secular values of the Constitution are protected.



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