Assam NRC final list: stateless at the stroke of a pen

Divided families wonder what has torn them apart despite same credentials

September 01, 2019 05:15 am | Updated December 03, 2021 08:18 am IST - New Delhi

All-important call: A man calls his family members after checking the of NRC in Morigaon on Saturday.

All-important call: A man calls his family members after checking the of NRC in Morigaon on Saturday.

Mofizur Rehman, a health officer with the Meghalaya government, took leave from work to attend a hearing at a National Register of Citizens (NRC) centre in Darrang district of Assam in April. Dr. Rehman said he distinctly remembered the day.

“The room was packed. It seemed to be the counter of a cinema hall where a Salman Khan movie had just been released. In that cacophony, an official heard the application my family an I had filed against our exclusion from the draft NRC list... hearing was over in minutes,” Dr. Rehman said.

On Saturday, sitting in his office, miles away from home, he found the claim filed by the family of four had been rejected. They were one family among the 19 lakh people excluded from the final NRC published on Saturday.

Spelling error

“My father is a government school teacher. In some government records, his name, Rustam Ali, is spelt with an ‘o’. This could have led to our claim being rejected. We are taxpayers, citizens by birth... my uncle’s family has been included though he submitted the same legacy data. Among Muslims, even fathers and sons can have different surnames,” Dr. Rehman said.

There are several families whose immediate family members have been excluded.


For instance, Sarbari Bhattacharjee, 54, from New Bongaigaon says she submitted documents including her matriculation and marriage certificates, but her name did not appear in the final NRC. “I was born at Baranagar in West Bengal, but I do not have my birth certificate. The West Bengal government should help us with the documents. The name of my husband who retired from a government job last year and my daughter are there,” a visibly anxious Ms. Bhattacharjee said.

Nilanjan Chanda, 45, an IT professional from Kolkata said his mother Krishna Chanda, 80, a retired schoolteacher, was excluded. “She was born in Kolkata, her graduation certificate mentions her maiden name, Krishna Ghosh. She was called for verification and asked to prove if she was the daughter of R. Ghosh. The fact that she married and her surname changed to Chanda was not considered. She draws pension from the Assam government where her date of joining the service is 1963. We are dejected, but we will fight this legally. The Constitution gives citizenship to her, let them play politics,” an agitated Mr. Chanda said.

Azharuddin, a delivery assistant with food aggregator Swiggy in Guwahati, said six out of 14 members of his family who lived in Karimganj had not made it to the final NRC. “We were called for a hearing and we submitted land records of 1962, yet eight of us are stateless now,” he said.

Parimal Bhattacharjee,52, who works as an advisor with a tea firm in Tanzania says that his parents separated in 1971, the cut off year to be included in NRC, and he doesn't have any document pre-1971 as he was a four-year-old then. “I was born in Arunachal parents separated. Both my wife and son have found their name in the NRC list as they used my wife’s father legacy. My contention is that as per the Citizenship Act, 1955, I am an Indian by birth as I was born between January 26 1950 -July 1,1987 where in my parents' citizenship does not matter. And why should I go to Foreigner Tribunal when I am an Indian by birth? I find it a big insult to my being,” he added.

Rokibuz Zaman, a journalist said several members of his family in Barpeta were excluded. “My aunt Hazera Khatun voted in 1991 but after she married she was declared a doubtful voter. Her elder son and daughter have made it to the list but her younger daughter has been excluded,” Mr. Zaman says.

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