Barak Valley shuts down over NRC

Silchar, July 10 (IANS) A dawn-to-dusk shutdown to denounce the alleged flaws in the ongoing process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam crippled Barak Valley on Friday.

A general strike was called by the Nagarikatwa Suraksha Sangram Samiti, a conglomeration of several groups in the Bengali-dominated valley that has three districts: Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakndi.

The Samiti wants the NRC updating process simplified and the government to accept more documents than fixed until now to ascertain the genuineness of those who claim to be citizens.

Protesters say that in the name of NRC update, even genuine Indian citizens have to face lot of difficulties to trace out any legacy data or linkage.

Schools and colleges as well as markets remained closed on Friday. Vehicles, including long and short route buses and commercial vehicles, went off the roads. Government offices reported thin attendance.

No incident of violence was reported.

In Karimganj, the situation turned ugly after some police personnel allegedly misbehaved with a strike supporter. Police detained a few of the demonstrators. They were released later.

Paritosh Choudhury, one of the conveners of the Samiti, said: “Even genuine Indian citizens are facing difficulties and problems to trace out any legacy data or linkage or even certain basic documents.

“It has been claimed by the state … that the update process has been simplified. The ground reality is that the complicated modalities and the puzzling questions are so confusing and confounding that even literates find it difficult to (understand them).”

Some groups allege that the NRC updating process was a move to brand genuine Indian citizens belonging to linguistic and religious minorities as foreigners.

Last month, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said he would write to the central government to include all the people whose names figure in the latest voter list in the NRC being updated in the state.

Gogoi’s statement led to widespread protests in Assam amid allegations that the electoral roll in Assam was packed with illegal Bangladeshis living in the state.

The government has started the process of updating the NRC 1951 and it is likely to issue the updated NRC by December 2016.

The All Assam Students Union, which led the anti-foreigners’ movement, wants March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for deportation of illegal Bangladeshi citizens.

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