Skip to main content

Assam: "Conspiracy" to declare lakhs stateless, 80% "foreigners" yet to resubmit claims

Counterview Desk
In a detailed note, well-known civil rights organization, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), which has taken up the cause of lakhs of people in Assam who are in danger of being permanently declared “foreigner”, has said that, with less than 10 days to go for re-submitting claims for citizenship before the National Register of Citizens (NRC) offices, the future of nearly 32 lakh people is at stake.
Pointing out that nearly 80% of the claim forms is “yet to be submitted” before the deadline, December 15, the note says, already, some people who have begun smelling “a conspiracy in deliberately setting an impossible deadline.”

Text of the CJP note:

Even as the December 15 deadline for filing NRC Claim forms looms large, nearly 32 lakh people are yet to file their claims. Over the last 73 days, only 8,10,000 people have been able to complete the process. That comes to approximately 11,095 application filed per day. Given how now there are less than ten days left, out of which only five are working days, it is obvious that the remaining people will not be able to complete the application process in time!
A total of 40,07,707 persons failed to find their names in the NRC final draft that was published on July 30, 2018. This means, more than 80 percent of the people whose names had not been included in the NRC yet to submit their applications as a part of the claims and objections process. The fast approaching deadline is only casting a dark shadow over their future. What will happen to those who fail to submit their claim applications within stimulated period?
Over four million people have been left out of the NRC draft, most of them from socio-economically backward communities. Now CJP, drawing from its previous experience in providing legal aid in Gujarat, will step in with a multi-faceted team of lawyers and volunteers to ensure that these people receive a fair chance while filing claims across 18 of the worst affected districts. Your contribution can help cover the costs of a legal team, travel, documentation and technological expenses. Please donate generously here.
According to Prof Taizuddin Ahmed, who teaches political science at Bhawanipur Anchalik College, there are two possibilities: If you submit claim forms and your name remains out of final NRC your case may be referred to Foreigners Tribunal; or if you don’t submit your claim form there is high probability of being declared ‘foreigner’.
Prof Ahmed, has been burning the midnight oil working closely with CJP’s community volunteers and other youth of Barpeta and Baksa district to help people in filling up NRC claim application forms.
CJP’s work gets appreciated
Dr Hamida Haque, who has the distinction of being the first Muslim woman to hold a PhD in Mathematics, says, “The situation is deeply disturbing. But what’s worse, is that very few young and educated people are fully aware of how grave it has become.” She adds, “Had all people been working with the same passion and commitment at CJP community volunteers and volunteer motivators, we would have been able to mitigate the crisis to some extent by now.”
Prof Abdul Mannan who teaches Statistics at Gauhati University says, “Today we find ourselves amidst an unwarranted situation. Everybody in the state and from across the country, should come forward to lend a helping hand to ensure 100% of the claim forms are submitted within the stimulated period. Otherwise the poor and distressed people will have an uphill task ahead.” Appreciating work of CJP, Prof. Mannan says, “It is time to have a rethink. If someone can’t work on the ground like CJP Volunteers, they should have at least support CJP for their noble work.”
Meanwhile, there are some people who smell a conspiracy in deliberately setting an impossible deadline. Advocate Shaizuddin Ahmed of Gauhati High Court says, “It is greater conspiracy to drop a large number of people from final NRC and thus declare them as stateless. Everyone should understand and work to overcome this conspiracy. If others would have worked on the ground like CJP, then we could have averted this catastrophe.”
Assam’s arithmetic
At present there are 25 volunteer motivators along with 500 community volunteers who are working hard on the ground for filling claim applications every day. But the number is not enough. A volunteer can’t fill up more than 15 forms a day, helping cover anywhere between 40 to 50 applicants given how each form can cover more than one applicants. This is because if one person’s citizenship is under the scanner, it could affect others in their family. Therefore, 500 community volunteers can help cover only 40×500= 20,000 applicants a day, which in itself is a formidable feat!
This also means during the last 73 days CJP community volunteers alone have covered 14,60,000 claim applications. But then why is it that only 8,10,000 claim applications have been submitted till 4th December, 2018? It is because of mainly two reasons.
Bureaucratic hurdles
First, compiling documents for claim applications is not easy. The SOPs that finally came out after Supreme Court hearing on 1 November have created some complications for filling claim applications for the updating NRC. We know that most people were dropped from the final draft of the NRC because of linkage certificates. It means the Legacy documents or List A documents or the documents prior to 1971 of these people are beyond doubt. But the problem is that if the Legacy documents is in the name of someone’s father, grandfather or great grandfather it is tough establish his linkage with the Legacy Person.
Moreover there are 7 list B documents viz; 1) Birth certificate, 2) Land documents, 3) Board/ university certificates, 4) Bank/ LIC/ post office policy documents, 5) Circle officer / lot mandal / Panchayat secretary certificates, 6) Voters list, 7) Ration card and 8) Others. Among these seven documents, many are not easily available for economically weak and uneducated people, women and children. 
Though the voters list is a universal documents it excludes the population under 18 years of age and married women can’t connect with their inherents as father’s name is not available with the name of a married woman in the voters list. Though the ration card of a family could have been used for the linkage documents, not a single ration card has issuing date with the seal and signature of the issuing authority. So, all ration cards submitted so far have been rejected all over the state. 
The only alternative that was for the poor, uneducated woman was Panchayat secretary certificates which too was rejected largely during verification. The Supreme Court that permitted the acceptance of Panchayat secretary certificates stipulated that this was pending proper verification. 
But, the officials of NRC Authority from top to bottom rejected Panchayat secretary certificates who failed to submit additional document to that of Panchayat secretary certificates. On December 1, Prateek Hajela, state coordinator, NRC, issued an additional order to all DRCR of the State, where he has maintained that the married woman, who have no other documents to Panchayat secretary certificates should be verified as per Supreme Court directives.
But, an overwhelming majority of ground level officials appear to be quite ignorant about the Supreme Court directives. So, people are afraid about the situation that a document rejected once may not be acceptable again. So, everyone searching for the alternative documents which may be a substitute to Panchayat Secretary Certificate. But the door is closed for such alternative as in SOP it is strictly mentioned that any documents issued after August 31, 2015 will not be acceptable as List B documents for claim applications.
When Team CJP was monitoring the NSK centre it found in Narayanpur NSK in Baksa District that one LRCR was rejecting a land document of 1969 only because of the copy of the document was issued in 1987. Bedanta Bora, the LRCR of the opinion that the document was issued after 1971 so it can’t be a legacy document.
 At that time Shanti Ranjan Mitra of the Forum for Social Harmony, who was part of the CJP delegation asked, “I have passed the matriculation examination in 1965. I had lost my Admit card of that Examination. I have bring collected duplicate copy of that Admit card only on yesterday. Is it a document of 1965 or 2018?” Shanti Ranjan Mitra asked the question repeatedly, but the LRCR didn’t cite a single word.
The food fight is on!
Still, the distressed people have not given up their efforts to collect alternative documents. The community volunteers of CJP along with hundreds of educated youth, students and informed people are extending helping hands to gather alternative documents for claim applications. 
The people who have submitted wrong legacy data due to similarities of names of their legacy person are searching hard for their genuine legacy person and their legacy data codes, which is also a toughest work. But, they are still searching, they are still fighting, because giving up is not an option.

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…