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Assam's Bengali Hindus concerned at non-inclusion in NRC
Guwahati, Sep 2 - Seventy three-year old Manoranjan Seal is worried as his family has been left out of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) list.
The five-member family underwent a bitter struggle over the past few years to enlist their names in the NRC, which was updated by the Assam government recently to identify illegal citizens living in the state.
Their struggle, however, seems far from being over.
"We originally hail from Tripura. I came to Assam in 1970 with a hope of bettering my life. I have registered my name with the Employment Exchange of the government of Assam on March 13, 1970, and got a job at the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in 1972," Seal told IANS at his residence here.
Seal got married in Assam after joining the FCI and has lived here since then. His three sons -- Pradip, Mrinal and Mithu -- were all born here and grew up in the state capital. Yet their names did'nt figure in the NRC.
"We are genuine Indian citizens. My father has a land deed of 1960 in Tripura, which I had submitted along with my employment exchange registration certificate and yet these were not accepted," he said.
Seal and his family are among the 1.9 million people who have been excluded by the final NRC which was published by the government on August 31.
Although the government has said that excluded people will neither be detained nor considered as foreigners, yet they are somewhat apprehensive about being branded as stateless people.
"We have submitted all the valid documents we had. Now, how can I bring some additional documents to prove my Indian identity? I am 73 year old and I am a pensioner. For me it's not possible to run day after day to the NRC Seva Kendras trying to convince the 'babus' (officials) there that I am Indian," Seal said.
Jhunu Debnath, 52, has a different problem. While the final NRC has included the names of her husband and two daughters, she was excluded from the NRC.
"I have given the legacy data of my mother Kiran Bala, whose name figured in the 1951 NRC, and my passport, to establish my linkage with her. However, my name is not there," Debnath said.
Another excluded lady, Sangita Dutta, said: "I am worried as my mother's name is not there in the final NRC. My mother Sudipta Paul was a widow of late S.K. Paul who served in the Indian Air Force. The problem is my mother's name was Kanan Bala Das before her marriage. After her marriage with my father, the in-laws had changed her name to Sudipta Paul."
"She was not very educated and hence we don't have much documents. However, she was called for hearing twice and we explained to the NRC officials in detail about her case and they had accepted the same," she said .
When the family checked for her name in the final NRC on August 31, it was missing.
"My maternal uncles who had used the same legacy data of my maternal grandfather, however, are included in the NRC," Dutta, a Guwahati resident said.
Sangita is worried as her mother, who is undergoing treatment at Delhi, has been constantly asking about her status in the NRC.
"We don't know what to do? If we tell the truth she may not take it, she is very sick and tense over last few days due to the NRC," she said.
It is noteworthy in this regard that Assam's Bengali-speaking Hindus had rallied behind the BJP in 2016, when the party came to power in the state for the first time. Before the last Lok Sabha elections, the saffron party had assured the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, which seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who have entered India due to religious persecution.
The Bengali Hindu support to the BJP has continued in Assam, which helped the party secure nine out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats, including the Silchar and Karimganj in the Barak Valley, a traditional Congress stronghold.
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