Fear of family splits, detention dogs NRC left outs

Fear of family splits, detention dogs NRC left outs

Gopa with her family in Khoirabari in Assam. Photo by Bappi Sarkar. DH photo

Sheela Sarkar and Nuruja Begum, both homemakers aged about 50-years in Assam's Darrang and Dhubri districts respectively, share a similar fear of being declared foreigners and put behind bars in Assam.

The names of Sheela, a Bengali Hindu, and Nuruja, a Bengali speaking Muslim, were left out of the final list of National Register for Citizens (NRC) released on Saturday, even as the names of their children figured in the list.

"Will they put me in jail now? How can they drop my name when names of my three brothers are there? We submitted the same legacy document of our father," Sheela told DH from Khoirabari in Darrang, about 100-km North, hours after she found her name missing in the final NRC.

Her son Bappi said that a passport issued to his maternal grandfather in 1954 was submitted by Sheela and her brothers— Anup, Pranab and Shatadal.

Sheela had also submitted her school certificate having her father's name as a link document.

"If my maternal uncles are Indian citizens, how can my mother be a foreigner?" asked Bappi.

Bappi and her younger sister Tumpa's names have been listed in the final NRC, but their elder sister Gopa was shocked to see her name missing.

Interestingly, names of Gopa's husband Sushil and their 10-year-old son Rahul appeared in the Saturday list.

"She also submitted the same voters list of 1966 having our father's name as legacy document and her PAN card as linkage. Now her husband will have to make rounds of the foreigner tribunal to prove her citizenship," Bappi said.

Equally surprising is the story of Nuruja, from Arikata village in western Assam's Dhubri district which borders Bangladesh— There was no sign of her name in the list; but her husband and two children were listed.

"Where will I get a new document now," asked Nuruja, who works in a small tea stall as a helper.

She is worried about how will she manage a lawyer's fees to fight her legal battle in the foreigner tribunal.

The NRC list threw almost similar stories that raised fears of family split, more harassment and detention.

Many women have failed to make it to the NRC list due to lack of documents to prove linkage with their parents. Many did not go to school and their marriage not registered to prove their linkage with their parents or husband.

Plight of such persons prompted rights group like Amnesty International to express concern about the fate of over 19 lakh applicants, who were left out of the NRC.

The Amnesty has urged Assam government to ensure that the foreigner tribunals perform with transparency for fair trials.

The Rights and Risk Analysis Group, a New Delhi-based rights group led by Suhash Chakma, said that the NRC has pushed 19 lakh people towards statelessness.