Citizen group fears lakhs of bofide Indian citizens becoming stateless
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
SILCHAR, July 19: garikatwa Suraksha Sangram Committee (NSSC) organized a public conference in the premises of Women’s College, Silchar, today to discuss certain pertinent issues regarding the ongoing NRC update in Assam which might result in lakhs of bofide Indian citizens becoming stateless and the fear of being dropped from the update. The conference was attended by hundreds of people.
Members of the civic body said that the first NRC was prepared in 1951 by recording details of people included in that year’s Census. Now, it is being updated only in Assam, to comply with the provisions in Assam Accord which was the culmition of the six year-long Assam Movement against alleged illegal migrants from Bangladesh. But, the process is not only complex but also very cumbersome and the way it is being maged at present it might lead to lakhs of people losing their tiolity.
The NRC which is under preparation is not a new NRC. It is an upgradation of 1951 NRC. However, Section 15 of the Census Act, 1948 says that records of census are not admissible as evidence as per the India Evidence Act, 1872. Moreover, 1951 NRC data for many areas of the state are not available. Not all electoral rolls up to 1971 are available. Only electoral rolls of 1966 and 1971 have been made available online. But, they also don’t cover the whole of Assam. For many areas electoral roll of 1966 is also not available.
Legacy data for the districts of the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills, the ga Hills and the Mizo Hills, which were part of Assam until they were separated in 1972 are not made available. Apart from variations in spelling of the mes and other anomalies in legacy data, it has now come to light that mes of many people are missing from the lists. Adivasi organizations are claiming that around 80% of their people do not have mes in legacy data.
The members further said that it has come to their notice that the state authorities have opined that those people who will not be able to show their legacy data will not be finding their mes in the updated NRC. Such communities mainly constitute the Hindi speaking people who have migrated from various parts of the country, Bengalis, Hindus and Muslims, and other ethnic groups who have been residing here for generations. The way the modalities have been framed by the 8 member sub-committee of the state government and subsequently approved by the Registrar General of India, from all accounts, will be an exercise to deprive the genuine Indian citizens of their fundamental franchise right.
In the light of Section 2 of Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act of 1950, urgent steps should be taken in this regard. It must be noted that the NRC of 1951 is incomplete as around half the population of Assam, particularly the tribal and tea tribes communities, were not included in it. A special drive with appropriate modalities has to be evolved so that the tribal communities are not excluded from NRC 2015, unlike 1951.
The Committee further requested that the date for submission of NRC forms should be extended beyond July 31 as there was delay in distribution of forms among the people. Besides, the persons employed in NRC Seva Kendras (NSK) are mostly undertrained due to which the common people are suffering from harassment on a regular basis. Further, the electronic gadgets used in NSKs are outdated machines which must be updated as soon as possible. It is to be noted that many people have not yet received their NRC application forms. Conveners Sashanka Sekhar Paul, Pradip Kumar Deb and Arunngshu Bhattacharjee of the Committee were among those present in the public conference.