For the last two years and five months, Ratan Chandra Biswas (52) has been lodged in a detention centre in Assam. Ratan’s condition could very well give a picture of the ghastly repercussions of the hasty implementation of the National Registry of Citizens (NRC). Unwell from the time he was sent to the detention centre, his condition continued to deteriorate, and he was recently shifted to Assam’s Goalpara Civil Hospital. The condition under which Biswas has been kept in the hospital is inhuman, to say the least. Visibly dilapidated Biswas, who shivers as he speaks has been bound to the bed with a handcuff.
Declared a foreigner
Biswas, a Dalit Hindu, has studied till class VI and hails from Gerukabari Village under the Manikpur Police station in Bongaigaon district. As reported by Pratidin Time, Biswas was declared foreigner ex-parte. He was declared to be a foreigner by the Tribunal, allegedly without hearing his side. In 2008, on November 7, two policemen came to his house and handed him over a notice asking him to appear before the Foreigners’ Tribunal to prove his Indian nationality, as reported by NewsCentral 24*7. However, for the next five years, Biswas and his family failed to understand what really to make of this notice. Kalpana Vishwas, the wife of Ratan, says that none of the villagers who got the notices had a clue of what the notice meant and no police enquiry was done before registering of the case(which is mandatory).
Later in 2016, as reported by CounterView, he panicked and through a middleman tried communicating with the Police station. For this, he paid the middleman Rs 500. However, the man duped him and in turn, Biwas got arrested and was sent to the detention centre after three months. Biswas in the video, says, “I have studied up to class six. My grandfather’s name is in the 1966 Voters list. There is a small piece of land in my father’s name. Though I am an Indian Citizen, I have been forced inside a detention camp for the last 2 years and five months.” Interestingly, all of Biswas’s family members continue to be Indians.
Ratan Chandra Biswas is not the only victim, 64-yr-old Krishna Sarkar is also languishing in Goalpara detention centre. It is to be noted that there are six detention centres in the state and there are 951 detainees as informed by Assam Government to the State Assembly. Around 1 lakh people have been declared foreigners by the tribunals.
Panic and paranoia
As per a study by Assam-based researcher Abdul Kalam Azad, as many as 21 people (as of October 27) have committed suicide since 2015 when the process of updating the NRC began.
The latest case of NRC-related suicide took place on October 20. Nirod Baran Das, a retired teacher and advocate took his life at Kharupetia town in Darrang district. It is being reported that Das was paranoid and he feared being arrested after he was declared a foreigner despite being born and brought up in his town and having all legacy documents.
The Logical Indian take
BJP General Secretary Amit Shah at rallies in Rajasthan and Delhi in October said, “Are you bothered because of illegal immigrants in Delhi or not? Should they be thrown out or not? One hundred crore infiltrators have entered our country and are eating the country like termites. Should we throw them out or not?”. A similar remark was made in reference to NRC in September in Jaipur, “The BJP has vowed to not spare even a single Bangladeshi infiltrator. We will expel all of them.” He further added that there was no need for Hindus to worry about the draft and they will be taken care of. Though till now, the narratives around NRC and detention centre have been focussed around Muslims and their name not being in the NRC list eventually being declared that they are Bangladeshi immigrant. From the above example, it can be seen that the victims can be from any religion and the whole process of NRC has serious flaws.
Ex-army men who have served the nation have been declared foreigners and there are people whose whole family name is in the list but their name is not. It is time government both at the centre and state of Assam ensure that the human rights of people are not violated and the process is full proof.
Also Read: Assam: What Is National Register Of Citizens & Why Has It Created Tense Atmosphere In The State?