Hyderabad: Confusion, fear and suspicion are creating havoc among the people of Assam as over 19 lakh people do not find their names in the final citizenship list submitted by the government on Saturday. To confound their fears, the re-verification time of 120 days is going to lead to intense divide as the Muslims of Assam are increasingly angry that they have been put into this situation because of migrant Bengali Muslims.
Tension is brewing among the Assamese and Bengali people, who are increasingly indulging in open public tiffs during community gatherings. Amongst the Muslims in Assam are 48 per cent of local origin and 52 per cent from Bengal. According to the Central government census in 1951, there were 24 per cent Muslims in Assam, which increased to 34 per cent in the 2011 census.
The charged atmosphere is leading to further alienation between various sects of Muslims as there is fear of exclusion haunting many people. For this reason, there has been little support for the community from within Assam. Standing up to the challenge, Hyderabad’s Muslim community has extended support to them. A group of 900 volunteers has guided Muslims, especially of Bengal origin, in filling government forms and assisting them in the submission process to get included into the NRC.
The people who submit forms have been told not to sign on any government documents without verifying and checking with the team of volunteers, as most of them are daily wage workers, illiterate or semi-literate, and not aware of legal nuances. The tabulation of data of 3.5 lakh people has been done in Hyderabad, where their details, according to the government forms, were computerised and taken up at with legal aid and support to prove their citizenship rights.
Mr Nazimuddin Farooqui, who is carrying out work in this area, explained, “We have helped over 3.5 lakh people, all of them from lower and poor strata of society, in filling and submitting forms. Predominantly daily wage labourers, most of them had to travel over 400 km to reach government offices with their documents. We are now looking into our data to check on whether their names have been included or not.”
A team of advocates has been deployed to work in Assam now to assist in re-verification process. Since labourers do not have money to pay advocate fees, various groups are coming forward to help them.
In the current list being evaluated, it has been found that while parents are deemed Indian citizens, their children are not. In some cases, it has been found that a wife is an Indian citizen but the husband is not.
These initial findings have got people angry.
The declaration as a foreigner requires a process, whereby the neighbouring country Bangladesh has to be notified of their existence in India. This is then required to be re-verified by them before the claims of each case can be settled. Will that process be followed is the question being asked?...