GUWAHATI: In an unpleasant turn of events, things have come to such a pass that a large number of indigenous people of Assam will have to line up before Foreigners Tribunals (FTs) to prove their credentials as Indians. A large number of them, mostly tribal people, are among the over-19 lakh applicants declared ineligible for inclusion in the NRC. The FTs have been set up in Assam for the detection of foreigners.
Reactions on the findings of the NRC-update exercise keep coming these days from various parties and organizations. In the past few days, it is seen in the minority-infested areas in the State that people are busy in bringing awareness among the masses. Experts are seen to brief commoners on ways to move FTs, and the documents they have to keep ready.
On the contrary, indigenous organizations in the State are yet to wake up to bail out the large number of indigenous Assamese, mostly tribal people, from the crisis they have been in now after publication of the final NRC. Tribal people in remote areas not keeping various records properly are common in Assam. Ignorance on their part have landed them in such a trouble that they will have to face FTs to prove their Indian citizenship on their own land. In the absence of vital documents, the FTs may not declare them as Indians. Here comes the role of indigenous organizations in finding ways and means for bailing out their fellow beings. They are being made to pay a heavy price for their ignorance. The system is framing them as ‘foreigners’ on their own land.
The State government says that it will extend legal aid to the needy people. However, the indigenous organizations can at least do the spadework like making the ‘NRC ineligible’ indigenous people get the required documents issued from the competent authorities in support of their indigenous identity. If such ground works are not done now by the indigenous organizations, the trial for the indigenous people in FTs may not be in their favour. It is high time that the indigenous organizations of the State like the AASU (All Assam Students’ Union), AJYCP (Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva-Chatra Parishad), ABSU (All Bodo Students’ Union), AATS (All Assam Tribal Sangha) and others engaged themselves to ensure justice for the indigenous people of the State.