After Bengali Hindus and Muslims, the Gurkhas of Assam appear to be at the receiving end of the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The Assam unit of the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangha (BGP) said on Sunday that many community members have found their names among 1.02 lakh people in the additional exclusion list of the NRC published on June 26.
They include the kin of a Gurkha ‘martyr’ of the 1979-1985 Assam Agitation that provided a cut-off date for the NRC exercise to be based on, the descendant of a freedom fighter who founded the Congress party in the State during the British rule, and a Sahitya Akademi award-winner.
“My daughter Bajyanti Devi was the first woman martyr of the Assam Agitation and I contested the Assembly election. But my daughter-in-law and two grandsons are in the additional exclusion list, which demeans her sacrifice,” said 90-year-old Amar Upadhaya.
Manju Devi, the great-granddaughter of freedom fighter Chhabilal Upadhyay is also on the exclusion list. One of her family members was Swarup Upadhyay who was MP from Tezpur in 1991.
Sahitya Akademi winner Durga Khatiwada, whose father Abinarayan Khatiwada’s name figures in the 1951 NRC, is in the excluded list too.
“The Gurkhas came with the British soldiers to fight Burmese invaders and protect Assam in the 1820s. There are about 1,50,000 Gurkhas kept out of NRC and even those who are known to be living here for two centuries are being victimised,” said Prakash Dahal, general secretary of BGP’s Assam unit.
‘Will seek reasons’
“Certified copies will be sought from the competent authority ascertaining the reason for exclusion and the matter will be taken before court as the BGP is a party in the Supreme Court on NRC hearing case where Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said that no Gurkhas should be left out of the NRC,” the organisation’s leader Nanda Kirati Dewan said.
Hindi-speakers too are feeling the heat.
“The NRC is crucial for national security. But due to the mentality towards various linguistic communities and people who migrated from other States, a large number of real Indians are in a state of great confusion. In spite of proving clear NRC links, a large number of Hindi-speaking people are being declared as foreigners,” Gaurav Somani, State Congress spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Peace and Justice has sought greater transparency in the NRC process as well as hearings in Foreigners’ Tribunals. “The tribunals created by the Ministry of Home Affairs have scant regard for civil procedures and evidence. Wherever we went, people complained of manipulations. People are dying because of fear of the system that is targeting the poor,” the centre’s Teesta Setalvad said.