Assam’s NRC After Three Years: A Journey of Uncertainty and Despair

In May 2021, Assam’s State Coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) again petitioned the Supreme Court for a revision of the NRC released on August 31, 2019.

Jibon Das, 36, was anxious about his 2-year-old son’s future in Tamulpur, Assam’s Baksa district. On August 31, 2019, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was published in the state. Jibon wasn’t included.

“What will my family do?” Everyone disputes my nationality since my name isn’t on the NRC list. My son’s future worries me. My son’s future is filled with dread and gloom, from school admission to living a dignified life, lamented Das.

On August 31, 2019, the NRC published its final list, which excluded the names of 19, 06,657 applicants, raising questions about their citizenship.

The difficulty wasn’t confined to NRC’s exclusion. Though the government declared individuals disqualified would have an opportunity to prove their nationality in foreigners’ courts, even the issue of a’rejection slip’ to them had not begun three years later when the case was again contested in the Supreme Court.

After NRC’s publication, its flaws and validity were questioned. Assam Public Works, an NGO at the core of the NRC issue before the Supreme Court, urged a full review of the list. On July 23, 2019, the apex court denied the petition.

In September 2020, the Assam government demanded 10-20% NRC list reverification in Bangladesh-adjacent districts.

In May 2021, Assam’s State Coordinator of the NRC again filed Supreme Court asking a reverification of the NRC released on August 31, 2019, stating many ineligible names made it to the list.

The Supreme Court was still considering the case notwithstanding the Covid 19 outbreak.

Nothing has changed in three years. Continued bewilderment, anxiety, and harassment. With the label of “suspected foreigner,” Das’s life has become misery.

Zamser Ali, Assam State Coordinator of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), a non-profit giving legal support to individuals left out of the draft NRC, stated, “From Bengalis to religious minorities, to Gorkhas and even tribals, all have become victims of the scenario.” Everybody suffers.”

Assam has declared that anyone left off the NRC final list would neither be labelled as “foreigners” nor “arrested” till the case is in court, but must go through the Foreigners’ Tribunal to demonstrate their citizenship.

“Lakhs of individuals still need to prove their citizenship,” Ali said.

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