NRC registration process in Assam discriminates against Bengali-speakers: activists

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Kolkata, July 18 (IANS) With the final draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam to be published at the month end, an activist group on Wednesday termed the registration process as being “motivated and discriminatory” towards the Bengali-speaking people of the state.

Claiming the process was filled with “anomalies, imperfections and discrepancies” on the ground, a fact finding report published by the group urged the foreigners’ tribunals to follow a more impartial, objective, rational and humane form of documentation for the NRC.

“We found out that a linguistic discrimination is going on with the Bengali-speaking people in Assam in the name of NRC. The bureaucracy is working with a preset agenda. Nearly 3,000 people have been tagged as doubtful voters and sent to jail so far for failing to produce proper documents and most of them are Bengali-speaking,” said Nadim Khan, a member of activist group “United Against Hatred” that published the report.

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The activists said according to ground reports, the 100 odd foreigner’s tribunals that are supposed to scrutinise nearly 16 identification documents of people and identify them as Indians, foreigners or ‘D-Voters’, are not completely impartial and unbiased.

“There are allegations on the ground that the foreigner tribunals are not completely impartial and unbiased. It is also alleged that the tribunals are driven by the ruling regime in Assam.

“There are allegations that the officials at the tribunals are fudging evidence and also not accepting documents from a certain section of people and marking them as doubtful voters or foreigners on flimsy grounds,” he said.

The report also said several people are not receiving the notice to provide documents and might be tagged as doubtful voters when the final draft comes up.

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“Thousands of people are not getting notices to provide the documents. NRC is saying that they have uploaded the notice on the internet but most of the population of rural Assam does not have access to the internet. So without the notice the people can’t go the tribunals and if they do not submit their documents in time, they would be branded as ‘D-Voters’,” it pointed out.

The report also said BJP’s backing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that aims to provide citizenship to illegal migrants, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction but excludes Muslims, is further complicating the situation there.

According to the tripartite accords signed in 1985 between All Assam Students’ Union, and Assam and Central governments, those who registered themselves as Indian citizens in the state on or before August 24, 1971, will be considered as Indian nationals.

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The Supreme Court had earlier in the month extended the deadline for the publication of the draft by one month to July 30 as the earlier deadline of June 30 could not be met in the wake of the flood situation in the state.



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