‘We don’t know how we will manage to prove our citizenship’, say families excluded from NRC
Over 4 million people were excluded from the NRC draft published last year, and were given a month to file claims and objections.Updated: Sep 01, 2019 00:57 IST
A retired schoolteacher in the central Assam district of Hojai, Dey had found himself, and almost his entire family out of the draft NRC published last year — only his daughter Rumpi had made it to the citizens register while his two daughters and three sons were excluded.
Over 4 million people were excluded from the NRC draft published last year, and were given a month to file claims and objections.
Dey awoke early on Saturday, marshaled all his documents in sheafs of yellow plastic folders and rushed to the nearest NRC Seva Kendra. But at 10am, he was handed bittersweet news: His two daughters, Rakhi and Rita, were included but none of his three sons — Babulal, Kanulal and Titulal — were. “What fault is it of ours?” asked Dey.
For them, the problem lay in their documents. To make it to the NRC, one has to prove that they, or their ancestors were in Assam before the citizenship cut-off date of March 25, 1971, as well as provide a second set of documents tracing their lineage to their ancestor.
In Dey’s case, he provided a document showing his father, Tarini Mohan Dey, was included in the 1951 NRC. At the time, the family lived in Karimganj town of the then undivided Cachar district.
But there was one problem. The last name was spelt in Assamese as ‘Dev’ instead of ‘Dey’. Though the surname was corrected to ‘Dey’ in the 1966 voter list, Dey suspects it is this misspelling that cost him, and his sons, recognition as valid citizens.
“I had shown it to the officials, and even submitted an affidavit saying that the erroneous spelling of my father’s last name was corrected. But clearly, it was to no avail,” said Dey, sheafs of photocopied documents strewn in front of him at a tea stall in Hojai.
So how did his daughters make it? Unlike Dey and his sons, the daughters, who are married, only submitted the record of the 1966 voter list, where the surname was correctly spelled.
Being prominent citizens of Hojai town, the NRC misstep has come as an insult to Dey’s status and the 68-year-old said he didn’t know how to proceed to file an appeal in the foreigners’ tribunal. “The process seems difficult, even more than NRC, and more costly. We don’t know how we will prove ourselves (as citizens),” said son Babual.
Dey grumbled that the 15-month process had taken a toll on his health and he was not looking forward to the appeals process. “How can I trust the tribunal when real documents have been rejected today?” he asked.