* NRC update last chance for existence of indigenous peoples
* Little awareness about NRC in Upper Assam and North bank
* Urgency in minority-domited areas to be included in NRC
* Abysmal role of AASU and ethnic organizations on the ground
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, April 6: The process of updating the tiol Register of Citizens (NRC) is absolutely vital to the existence of indigenous communities in the State, yet they do not seem to be sufficiently aware or even concerned about it. This is in stark contrast to immigrant domited areas, where there is great urgency for inclusion into the NRC. If the State government does not carry out an all-round, intensive awareness drive about the NRC update process, and if the indigenous communities do not extend cooperation to it — there is real danger that the indigenous people of Assam will become dispossessed strangers in their own land.
Presently 2,500 NRC Seva Kendras, set up by the government all over the State, are assisting the public in searching for legacy data, getting free printouts of legacy data extracts and submitting filled-in NRC application forms. From this month onwards, NRC forms will be distributed house to house for the convenience of people.
Although the NRC update works have been started at the field level in the State, many people are yet to get the details about the process, especially the legacy data, due to the lacklustre awareness campaign by the government. If the government tries to complete the NRC update in this manner, the mes of many indigenous people will be left out from being included in the NRC.
This is because legacy data is the primary set of documents admissible to prove the claim of citizenship for inclusion in the NRC.
The government has made legacy data available to the public online, where people can search their mes or mes of their ancestors, so as to apply for inclusion of their mes in the NRC. The NRC Seva Kendras also have the easily searchable digitized legacy data for the entire State consisting of digitised records and images of the origil legacy data papers.
Sources said awareness among people of upper Assam and north bank about the NRC update seems to be much lower than the people of lower Assam. “People in especially the linguistic and religious minority domited areas of the State are turning out in large numbers in the NRC Seva Kendras compared to other areas,” sources said, adding, “Special campaigns will be undertaken in Upper Assam and North bank to make people aware about the NRC update.”
Sources further said, “Despite a six-month long awareness campaign on the importance of legacy data needed for the NRC update, many people all over the State are yet to visit the Seva Kendras to get records of their legacy data.”
It is also noteworthy that many student organizations, social groups and others in lower Assam are helping people to find their legacy data records, but prominent student and ethnic organizations like the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and others, which are most vocal in updating the NRC for the State, are not seriously working on the ground to involve the indigenous peoples in the process and get their mes included in the NRC. “If the NRC contains any errors, then only does the AASU raise a hue and cry. This should not be their attitude,” sources criticised.