Assam: Villagers Forced To Travel As Far As 600 Km For NRC Re-Verification
Problems for the people living in several lower Assam districts, mostly minorities, are never-ending. When the state had just started to recover from floods, thousands of people who made it to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft were summoned by the authorities for “re-verification” of papers on Monday.
Notices were served to people living in Kamrup (Rural), Barpeta, Goalpara, and Baksa districts in lower Assam. However, they were asked to visit Sivasagar, Charaideo, Jorhat and Golaghat districts in upper Assam, nearly 500 km from some districts, for the scheduled hearings.
Senior advocate Hafiz Rashid Choudhury, a member of the Brahmaputra Valley Civil Society questioned the re-verifications. “We don’t understand why hearings are being held again when the NRC authorities have already completed a series of verifications and re-verifications. People across the districts are in a state of panic … Things are getting too complicated,” Rashid told The Times of India.
The people are clueless as to why they have been asked to appear at centres 600 km away, for re-verification.
A worried Fakar Uddin, who has been asked to appear at a centre nearly 400 km said, “I received the notice at 1 pm on Sunday. My wife Samsun Nehar and I are taking care of our month-old child. She has to appear for hearing at a centre in Golaghat.”
Alleging that the basic procedure is not being followed for these hearings, All Assam Minority Students’ Union president Rejaul Karim Sarkar said, “We suspect it is being done under pressure.”
Last week, when the district-wise data was presented in the Assam assembly, the Centre and the Assam government had rejected the NRC list stating that there were “wrong inclusions and exclusions” in it.
According to the data, more than 90 per cent of the names in four districts bordering Bangladesh border; Dhubri (91.78 per cent), Karimganj (92.33 per cent), Hailakandi (91.96 per cent) and South Salmara (92.78 per cent) – have been included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) list. According to Census 2011, all four districts have Muslim population in majority.
On the other hand, the number of excluded people from districts like Karbi Anglong where indigenous people have been living for decades, the figure is 14.31 per cent. While in upper Assam’s Tinsukia, where sons of the soil have been living for ages, this figure is 13.25 per cent.