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Process to file NRC claims in Assam begins amid anxiety, chaos

The Supreme Court had said only 10 of the 15 documents that were initially accepted as proof of citizenship could be submitted afresh with the claims form.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2018 05:09 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Assam NRC,Illegal immigrants,NRC draft list
People verify the National Register of Citizens (NRC) forms to file claims and objections at an NRC centre, in Guwahati, on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)

As the process of filing claims and objections to the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) got underway on Tuesday, Azida Begum was in for a shock.

The 44-year-old, whose name was missing from the draft NRC published on July 30, had gone to the nagrik seva kendra (NSK) in Azara, a neighbourhood on Guwahati’s outskirts, to file her claim for inclusion in the list.

“They have told me to either wait for a month or get more documents,” said Begum, one of less than 50 people who visited the Azara NSK, according to officials.

“This is my father’s legacy document. His name is there in the 1970 voters’ list,” she said, pulling out a sheaf of papers from a plastic carry bag. Instead of submitting the legacy document of Abdul Hamid, her father, she had attached the document of Mohabbat Ali, her father-in-law, leading to a family tree mismatch and her exclusion from the NRC draft.

But the official at the NSK told Begum the 1970 voters’ list with her father’s name in it could not be accepted as a valid document at this point as per a Supreme Court order, leaving her worried.

Recently, the SC had said only 10 of the 15 documents that were initially accepted as proof of citizenship could be submitted afresh with the claims form. A decision on the remaining five – an extract of the 1951 NRC voters’ list and ration cards until March 24, 1971, refugee and migration certificates – will be taken on October 23 amid demands that they be allowed.

“I am scared,” Begum said, whose son is in the draft NRC.

Not many people turned up at the NSKs to file claims on the first day, which was marked by confusion and anxiety.

Parbati Das, a 78-year-old khilonjiya (indigenous) Assamese, too, has to wait for the SC ruling. Her name was excluded from the NRC because the 1970 voters’ list, which she submitted, had her surname as Namashudra instead of Das. But the names of her son and his family, who submitted the same document, are in the list.

Begum and Das aren’t the only ones doing the rounds of NSKs.

Partha Saha in Pandu, a largely Bengali neighbourhood in Guwahati, has made as many as 20 trips. When the first draft came out on the midnight of December 31, Saha found the unique application receipt number (ARN) given to his family showed up another family of Nirmal Chandra Patowary.

“They gave me a new ARN claiming my name will come in the final draft. When I looked up the new ARN it shows up no data found,” an angry Saha said outside the Pandu NSK by the Brahmaputra river.

This NSK, which has one of the highest rates of exclusion in Guwahati, saw only 15 people filing claims until 2pm, CK Baisya, a senior NRC official said. Both Pandu and Azara NSKs did not see people turn up to file objections.

First Published: Sep 25, 2018 23:33 IST