GUWAHATI: Hasan Ali says he was forced to shell out his hard-earned money due to the mischief of a man he does not know. The daily wager, who hails from Haldia village in Assam’s Barpeta district, had to traverse miles recently to depose before the authorities of National Register of Citizens (NRC) to prove that his son Delowar Hussain, aged 12 years, is a genuine Indian citizen.
The 52-year-old Ali was forced to go through the hardship as an individual had objected to the inclusion of Delowar’s name in NRC. After the “complete draft” NRC was published last year, the authorities had started the process of filing of claims and objections.
“The names of all of us in our family had figured on NRC list. However, one Sailen Pathak, whom I don’t know, had filed an objection before NRC authorities alleging that Delowar is not an Indian,” Ali told Express.
“Later, I deposed before NRC authorities but the objector didn’t show up. This is nothing but harassment. I am a poor man and I had to unnecessarily spend money on transport for the mischief of somebody. I also earned nothing that day as I was busy travelling,” an aggrieved Ali said. He said, had there been legal provisions in NRC to get the details of objectors, he would have sued the complainant.
Ali is among many who were allegedly harassed. Mohammed Nasseruddin Ahmed, a retired school headmaster who had been an active member of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) for 40 years, had to face a similar travail.
A member of AASU had filed an objection before NRC authorities alleging that Ahmed is not a genuine Indian citizen. He held various posts in AASU in the early 1970s and also participated in the anti-foreigners’ agitation of early 1980s.
The NRC authorities had received around two lakh objections which were filed by individuals and organisations. However, when people, against whom the objections were filed, are called for a hearing, the objectors do not turn up. Some organisations had earlier alleged that people belonging to linguistic and religious minorities were being harassed by certain organisations besides individuals.
When NRC Assam coordinator Prateek Hajela recently told the Supreme Court that the objectors were not appearing for hearings of objections they had filed against individuals, the court had asked him to exercise his discretion. At the same time, the court asserted that the final NRC must be published by July 31.
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 during the process of NRC updation, they will be viewed as illegal immigrants.