Illiterate Bengalis in Assam targeted in the name of NRC, alleges student organisation 

The allegation was made amidst the growing demand for action against “fake objectors” who were allegedly harassing a section of people.

Published: 14th May 2019 08:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th May 2019 08:31 PM   |  A+A-

Assam-NRC

People wait in a queue to check their names on the National Register of Citizens after it was released at an NRC Seva Kendra in Assam. (PTI file image used for representational purpose only)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: A students’ organisation in Assam has alleged that the centres of National Register of Citizens (NRC) are making illiterate Bengalis sign on an undertaking that they do not possess any documentary evidence to counter individuals and organisations who objected to the inclusion of their names in draft NRC.

The allegation was made amidst the growing demand for action against “fake objectors” who were allegedly harassing a section of people, belonging particularly to religious and linguistic minority communities, who have already made it to NRC list.

“Hundreds and thousands of such objections have been filed against Bengali Hindus by the fake objectors. So, when the victims turn up for the hearings, they don’t find the objectors there. What follows next is that they are asked to sign on an undertaking, written in English, that they don’t have any documentary evidence to counter the objectors. Those who are illiterate sign on it but those who are educated raise questions about it,” All Assam Bengali Youth Students’ Federation (AABYSF) general secretary, Ajay Bhushan Sarkar, alleged at a press conference in Guwahati on Tuesday.

He said the signed undertakings are subsequently sent to the foreigners’ tribunals which deal with the cases of suspected illegal immigrants.

“Later, on being intimated by the foreigners’ tribunals, the border police send summons to the victims to report to a police station. When the victims depose before the police, they are sent to detention centres. There are several such people who have been sent to the detention centres,” Sarkar alleged.

NRC authorities were not available for comments. The detention centres are separate cells in jails where the suspected illegal immigrants are lodged.

AABYSF president Kamal Choudhury said he too was a victim of a fake objection.

“I had appeared at an NRC centre in Guwahati but the person, who had objected to the inclusion of my name in draft NRC, did not show up. I have seen such objections being filed also against people who possess land records as old as that of 1952,” he said.

The NRC in Assam is being updated under the direct monitoring of the Supreme Court and based on the March 24, 1971 cut-off date. This means if people fail to submit any pre-March 24, 1971, documents of residency in the country, they will be viewed as illegal immigrants.

“The SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) of the Supreme Court says the objectors have to be physically present during hearings. Why are they not facing the people they claimed are not Indians? They should be punished,” Choudhury insisted.

“Poor Bengalis in their eighties and nineties are also being harassed as they have been forced to appear in the hearings in faraway places. We are trying to highlight their plight before NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela but he is avoiding us,” the student leader alleged.

The organisation urged the state’s BJP-led government to redress the plight of the Bengali Hindus even as it threatened to launch a movement in the event of failure. 

“The Bengalis at large had voted for the BJP in the 2016 Assam polls. We urge Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to rescue them from the harassment in the name of NRC. If he doesn’t do that, we will be forced to launch a movement and float a political party ahead of 2021 elections in the state,” Sarkar warned.

The Supreme Court has directed NRC authorities to publish the final NRC by July 31 this year.

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