Stateless! Getting ready to protest.

Stateless! Getting ready to protest.

Assam’s Bengali Hindus voted BJP to power, now find excluded from NRC

Unhappy BJP to move SC seeking re-verification of NRC data

Agency Report | Guwahati/New Delhi | 2 September, 2019 | 11:00 PM

The final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) may be out in Assam, but both the central and the state BJP feel that there's enough room for errors. Hence, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to move the Supreme Court again to re-verify select data.

Seventy three-year old Manoranjan Seal is worried as his family has been left out of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) list.

The five-member family underwent a bitter struggle over the past few years to enlist their names in the NRC, which was updated by the Assam government recently to identify illegal citizens living in the state.

Their struggle, however, seems far from being over.

“We originally hail from Tripura. I came to Assam in 1970 with a hope of bettering my life. I registered my name with the Employment Exchange of the government of Assam on March 13, 1970, and got a job at the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in 1972,” Seal said at his residence here.

Seal got married in Assam after joining the FCI and has lived here since then. His three sons — Pradip, Mrinal and Mithu — were all born here and grew up in the state capital. Yet their names did’nt figure in the NRC.

“We are genuine Indian citizens. My father has a land deed of 1960 in Tripura, which I had submitted along with my employment exchange registration certificate and yet these were not accepted,” he said.

Seal and his family are among the 1.9 million people who have been excluded by the final NRC which was published by the government on August 31.

Although the government has said that excluded people will neither be detained nor considered as foreigners, yet they are somewhat apprehensive about being branded as stateless people.

“We have submitted all the valid documents we had. Now, how can I bring some additional documents to prove my Indian identity? I am 73 year old and I am a pensioner. For me it’s not possible to run day after day to the NRC Seva Kendras trying to convince the ‘babus’ (officials) there that I am Indian,” Seal said.

Jhunu Debnath, 52, has a different problem. While the final NRC has included the names of her husband and two daughters, she was excluded from the NRC.

“I have given the legacy data of my mother Kiran Bala, whose name figured in the 1951 NRC, and my passport, to establish my linkage with her. However, my name is not there,” Debnath said.

Another excluded lady, Sangita Dutta, said: “I am worried as my mother’s name is not there in the final NRC. My mother Sudipta Paul was a widow of late S.K. Paul who served in the Indian Air Force. The problem is my mother’s name was Kanan Bala Das before her marriage. After her marriage with my father, the in-laws had changed her name to Sudipta Paul.”

“She was not very educated and hence we don’t have much documents. However, she was called for hearing twice and we explained to the NRC officials in detail about her case and they had accepted the same,” she said.

When the family checked for her name in the final NRC on August 31, it was missing.

“My maternal uncles who had used the same legacy data of my maternal grandfather, however, are included in the NRC,” Dutta, a Guwahati resident said.

Sangita is worried as her mother, who is undergoing treatment in Delhi, has been constantly asking about her status in the NRC.

“We don’t know what to do? If we tell the truth she may not take it, she is very sick and tense over last few days due to the NRC,” she said.

It is noteworthy in this regard that Assam’s Bengali-speaking Hindus had rallied behind the BJP in 2016, when the party came to power in the state for the first time. Before the last Lok Sabha elections, the saffron party had assured the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, which seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who have entered India due to religious persecution.

The Bengali Hindu support to the BJP has continued in Assam, which helped the party secure nine out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats, including the Silchar and Karimganj in the Barak Valley, a traditional Congress stronghold.
The Union Home Ministry has said that those left out of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam will not be detained, under any circumstances, till they “exhaust” all remedies available under law.

Such people can appeal to the Foreign Tribunals within 120 days, it said, stressing that they will continue to enjoy all their rights as earlier, like any other citizens.

“The affected persons will continue to enjoy rights like right to employment, education, property etc,” Home Ministry spokesperson Vasudha Gupta said in a tweet.

In another tweeet, she said: “State government has also made necessary arrangements to provide legal aid to the needy people amongst those excluded from NRC final list, by providing all assistance through the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA).”

Saying that adequate judicial process is available for affected persons to appeal to Foreigners Tribunal within 120 days from August 31 this year, the ministry said that “to facilitate appeal, 200 new FTs to be functional from today (Monday), in addition to 100 already existing”.

In the final NRC list released on Saturday, 30.1 million people were found eligible to be included, while more than 1.9 million were left out.

The ones left out are mostly Bengali Hindu refugees who had come to Assam before 1971, or people who couldn’t furnish the necessary documents.
The final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) may be out in Assam, but both the central and the state BJP feel that there’s enough room for errors. Hence, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to move the Supreme Court again to re-verify select data.

According to Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam Finance Minister and BJP’s face in the northeast, the party would move the top court asking for a re-verification of 20 per cent of the sample data in the districts bordering Bangladesh. The BJP will also seek re-verification of 10 per cent of samples from the main land of Assam. This demand will be against the draft NRC.

The draft NRC gave BJP a surprise when many from the border districts, where the population is dense, made it to the list. It was presumed that majority of them were illegal Bangladeshis.

No wonder that the spat between the BJP and Prateek Hajela, the chief coordinator of the NRC, has come out in the open.

Sarma, who’s often referred to as the Amit Shah of northeast, had said, “We have lost hope in the present form of the NRC right after the draft. When so many genuine Indians are left out, how can you claim that this document is a red letter for the Assamese society?”

In the final NRC list released on Saturday, the ones left out are mostly Bengali Hindu refugees who had come to Assam before 1971, or people who couldn’t furnish enough documents.

Even Assam BJP President Ranjeet Kumar Dass has expressed his discontent over the final NRC List.

On Saturday, the final NRC list was released which made 30.1 million people eligible to be included, while leaving out more than 1.9 million.

Over 1.9 million people were left out of the much-awaited final NRC list, which named 30.1 million people as Indian citizens.
Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister and Congress Assam in-charge Harish Rawat met party interim President Sonia Gandhi and apprised her of the situation in the state following the release of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in which over 19 lakh citizens have been excluded.

This was Rawat’s second meeting with Sonia in the last three days, following the release of the NRC list.

According to party leaders, the meeting of Rawat with Sonia Gandhi lasted for over one hour.

Speaking to reporters, Rawat said, “I have apprised Soniaji of the present situation in Assam after the NRC list was released. I also told her that the party workers will keep on helping the people whose names have been excluded from the NRC list.”

He said that he has also gathered the first hand account of many people whose names have been excluded in the NRC list, the reactions of people from the places where we felt that most of the people have been affected.

Rawat said he has apprised Sonia Gandhi also about the stand taken by different political parties on the issue.

“Congress is still on its stand that every real citizen must be part of the NRC. Citizenship is a right and this must remain,” he said, adding, “We will give all help to those whose names have been excluded from the list.”

The citizens’ registry was released online around 10 a.m. on Saturday, ending six years of speculation over the exercise that identifies illegal foreigners living in Assam in which over 19 lakh people have been excluded from the NRC final list, which has named 3.1 crore people as Indian citizens.

The NRC has immense significance for the people of Assam as the state witnessed a six-year-long movement between 1979 and 1985 seeking detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshis.

The NRC updation process was started in the state on the orders of the Supreme Court in 2013. It is being carried out by the Registrar General of India and is being monitored by the apex court.

On Saturday, Rawat had met Sonia Gandhi at her residence. After Rawat, former Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and party MP Gaurav Gogoi also met Sonia Gandhi over the issue. (IANS)