Against the backdrop of the publication of the first draft of the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the Indian State of Assam on Sunday midnight, many Muslims are fearful of being excluded from the final draft due to various matters including their inability to exhaust all the legal avenues. In the first draft published amidst tight security across the state, 1.9 crore people have been recognised as Indian citizens, with another 1.39 crore people waiting to know their status that would be disclosed through later drafts, sources in the Assamese capital of Guwahati told The Independent yesterday evening. About 3.29 crore people submitted applications to be included in the NRC process, which has been going on for about three years.
There has been no report of any violence so far centring the NRC in any part of the state. The state government of Assam has repeatedly assured through mass media that this is only the partial draft and there will be ample opportunity later on to be included in the final draft, said the sources.
These repeated assurances seem to have had a positive impact on people, they said. As the draft was published hurriedly, many anomalies were seen in the list. “We have been living in the state since ages. I am a government official and discharging the NRC duty. But, my own name and the names of my wife, my daughter and son did not appear in the list,” Anower Ansari told The Independent from his home in Assam.
“We are waiting for the publication of the next draft,” he said. “The names of me and my wife are not on the NRC. But, our only child’s name is there,” said Fazluzzaman Mazumder, a lawyer of Guwahati high court.
“We are hoping to get our names on the next draft,” he said. The sources said there is enough opportunity ensured in the process to be included, but the question is whether people especially Muslims with poor background would be able to avail these opportunity.
If anyone’s name is not present in the final list, they said that a person can appeal at a tribunal followed by going to a single bench of the Guwahati high court, then a division bench of the same court and eventually the Indian supreme court.
There is fear that most of those who will be excluded from the final list are poor Muslims due to their failure to submit required documents to prove their residence in the state, the sources said, adding that about 34 per cent of the Assamese inhabitants are Muslims.
But, they said that given their socioeconomic conditions, it remains to be seen whether these people will be able to avail the opportunities to be included in the list. It will take a long time for the issue to be finally settled, they added.
“As of now, I have not heard of any violence regarding the NRC,” Bangladesh’s Assistant High Commissioner in Guwahati Kazi Muntasir Murshed told The Independent from Assam. Although Dhaka considers the updating of the National Register of Citizens for state of Assam as entirely an Indian internal issue, it is closely monitoring the situation as the name of Bangladesh has been associated from time to time unfairly without any basis. “It’s an internal affair of India. But, as the name of Bangladesh has been associated for whatever reasons, we are closely monitoring the situation,” said Murshed. “Dhaka has been kept fully informed regarding this situation,” he said.
According to top officials of the foreign and home ministries, the Indian government never raised this issue with Bangladesh either officially or unofficially and that whatever information they get is from the media. They said that Bangladesh considers this as an internal affair of the neighbour very much influenced by local politics of Assam. About the association of Bangladesh with the issue, the officials described it as unfortunate saying that such a thing cannot be expected from a friendly country.
*News Searching By The Independent bd*