Disappointed over exclusions from the NRC final list, Gorkhas devise action plan
A retired flight lieutenant of the Indian Air Force is among several members of the Gorkha community in Assam whose names have not featured in the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), stoking anger and disappointment in the 2.5 million-strong community in Assam.
Chabindra Sarma served in the air force for 38 years and retired in 2018. But he is the only person in his family to be excluded from the NRC.
A resident of the Biswanath district in central Assam, his parents, siblings, children and wife have all made it to the citizen’s register.
His name had not appeared in the July 2018 draft list as well.
“They made me appear for three hearings and each time they said my documents were correct and I will make it to the final list. Yet, they have rejected me,” Sarma said adding how he dreads the idea of going to a foreigners’ tribunal to appeal his case.
“Am I a criminal that I will have to approach a judicial body?” he asked.
In neighbouring Sonitpur district, Sanjib Upadhyay echoed his anger.
Upadhyay, a schoolteacher, was told that he had a case pending before a foreigners’ tribunal, which automatically excluded him from the NRC.
But Upadhyay said the Dhekiajuli foreigners’ tribunal cleared him in January this year, and that he submitted the order -- HT has seen a copy -- to the NRC authorities.
“How can I be a foreigner when my younger brother’s name is in the NRC,” Upadhyay asked.
Though no clear figures are available, four prominent Gorkha organisations -- All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union (AAGSU), Assam Gorkha Sammelan (AGS), Assam Nepali Sahitya Sabha (ANSS) and Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP) -- claimed thousands from the community were among the 1.9 million excluded from the final NRC list.
“Some have faced problems with link documents. Uneducated women did not have documents to prove their ancestry. Several thousand have been marked as D voters,” said Prem Tamang, president of All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union,
referring to a process where election officials mark someone as doubtful voter if they suspect her or him to be an illegal immigrant.
A joint action committee formed by the four organisations held a meeting on Sunday and decided to appeal to the Centre and the state government to file review petitions in the Supreme Court so that Gorkhas are not affected in Assam.
Bengal chief minister Mamata Bnerjee said in a tweet Sunday, “We are shocked to see that names of more than 1 lakh Gorkha people have been excluded from the list.” No official numbers are available.
Raju Bista, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Darjeeling, said “Senior BJP leaders including union home minister Amit Shah, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and former home minister Rajnath Singh have assured that Indian Gorkhas have nothing to worry about the NRC.”