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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Mystery over death of 88-year-old man whose name was missing from Assam NRC

The man had told his family that he was worried about the likelihood of being sent to a detention centre if he failed to prove he is an Indian citizen because his name did not figure in the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

india Updated: May 26, 2019 16:36 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Data entry operators of National Register of Citizens (NRC) carry out correction of names and spellings at an NRC Seva Kendra at Birubari in Guwahati .
Data entry operators of National Register of Citizens (NRC) carry out correction of names and spellings at an NRC Seva Kendra at Birubari in Guwahati .(PTI FILE PHOTO)
         

An 88-year-old man in Boko, nearly 70 km west of Guwahati, was found dead Sunday morning days after he told his family that he was anxious about the likelihood of being sent to a detention centre if he failed to prove he is an Indian citizen because his name did not figure in the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Neighbours who found Asraf Ali’s body lying inside a school campus, 200 metres from his hut in Sontoli in Boko said he ended his life by taking poison.

But police said there was so sign of poisoning.

“Ali had a voter ID which showed his age as 88. His financial condition was also poor. There were no injury marks on his body. No suicide note or poison bottle was found near him,” said Kamakhya Misra, in-charge of Sontoli police outpost.

“We gathered that he was called for a NRC hearing recently. But we can’t say for sure whether his death is connected with that. The body has been sent for post mortem to find out whether death was natural or due to other causes,” he added.

Ali was among the 40 lakh people (among 3.29 crore applicants) whose names are missing from the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) published last year.

Also read: ‘Be brave, keep law in mind’: SC says NRC must come by July 31

The NRC is being updated in Assam, under monitoring of the Supreme Court, with the intention of weeding out illegal immigrants. The final list is to be published before July 31 this year.

Reports in local media attributing Ali’s neighbours stated that he had recently visited a NRC centre in Rangia, located nearly two hours away, for a hearing to include his name in the draft.

Asraf isn’t the first person who reportedly committed suicide in Assam due to non-inclusion in NRC.

According to data compiled by independent researcher Abdul Kalam Azad, 23 people had reportedly taken their lives over the issue till date since 2015 when the updation process started.

Most victims were from poor background.

“This list is not exhaustive. The list I’ve prepared is based on news reports and personal verification of incidents, mainly in Brahmaputra Valley. It doesn’t include such incidents, if any, from Barak Valley,” said Azad.

At present there are nearly 900 people in six detention centres meant for those declared foreigners by 100 tribunals set up for the purpose.

Persons whose names have appeared in the first NRC published in 1951 or in subsequent voter lists till March 24, 1971 (the day Bangladesh came into being) and their descendants are eligible for inclusion in the new NRC.

First Published: May 26, 2019 16:06 IST