NEW DELHI: The government should streamline the National Register of Citizens (NRC) updating process by minimising bias against chars of Assam, said the India Exclusion Report, 2018-19 released by the Centre for Equity Studies on Tuesday.
Char people have been victims of identity-based exclusion besides being at the receiving end of environmental distress, the report pointed out. It has focussed on the role of the state in perpetuating the systemic exclusion of vulnerable communities.
The chars or riverine islands and the char area are home to over 9 per cent of the state’s population. The 2002-03 socio-economic survey suggests an estimated 18 lakh people of the char population are Muslims of Bengali origin.
The ongoing Foreigner tribunal cases, D or ‘doubtful’ voters and reference cases should be brought under the ambit of NRC, the report has recommended.
There is a need for appointing judicial officers as members of Foreigner Tribunals and making it independent from government’s control, Election Commission discontinuing arbitrary marking of ‘D’ voters, ending indefinite detention and providing legal aid to fight cases of ‘D’ voters and reference cases in Foreigner Tribunals and higher courts, it said.
Char areas across the state have reported human rights abuse like killing, inflicting trauma, demolition of houses and making them vulnerable to torture.
The BJP government in the state has evicted flood and erosion-induced internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Assam since they came to power in 2016 and has failed to rehabilitate them since, the report said.
Access to health, education, sanitation, drinking water and livelihood remain a challenge for the community.
The government should conduct a survey in the char area and provide land pattas to those who are eligible, the chapter ‘Char residents of Assam’ by Abdul Kalam Azad said.
Framing rehabilitation and resettlement policies for the environment-induced IDPs and recommending policy guidelines for inclusive and disaster resilient development model for char areas are the need of the hour, it said.