The religious and linguistic minorities of Assam have expressed their concerns after the government of the northeastern Indian state published its first draft of the National Register for Citizens (NRC).
NRC officials said around 57.75% of the population of the state had been recognized as legally settled in the updated citizen’s list released on 31 December.
However, an analysis of the draft list has revealed worrying implications for the Bengali-speaking Muslim and Hindu communities in the Barak Valley.
According to the Asam Gana Parishad, the All Assam Students’ Union and other Assamiya organizations, such people should be deported to Bangladesh following the exercise, which is aiming to identify people who crossed into Assam after March 31, 1971.
The upper areas of Assam such as Tinsukia, Jorhat and Dibrugarh are mostly dominated by Assamiya speaking communites whose residents have been “cleared” by the NRC, unlike those living in the three Barak Valley districts.
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Jorhat has seen 87% of the population listed, while Dibrugarh has 80% and Tinsukia has 73%. In contrast, out of 4.1 million applicants in the Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts in Barak Valley, only 1.9 million people (46%) found their names in the first draft of updated citizens’ list.
The revelation has left over two million people in an uncertain status and has even divided some families.
Dilip Paul, the deputy speaker of the state Assembly who hails from Silchar, said that he was shocked when he found himself and his son enlisted as citizens while his wife and daughter were omitted.
Former vice chancellor of Assam University at Silchar, Tapoditya Bhattacharya, suffered the same fate as Dilip Paul.
According to NRC officials, the first list had been passed “relatively smoothly”. However, as their team was about to embark on the second and third phases of the process, they would begin to examine the documents.
The details of the first draft would be referred to the Supreme Court of India and the court will judge the draft to declare its stance over the issue on February 20, 2018.
The court will judge the second and third lists as well.