People stand in queue during an appeal hearing against the non-inclusion of their names in the National Register of Citizens, in Assam on Monday. (Photo: IANS)
Guwahati: Ahead of the much-hyped August 31 publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a fear of being rendered stateless has gripped thousands of people in some districts of Assam after they received 24-hour notices from the NRC authorities for re-verification of their citizenship claim.
Thousands of people particularly from Goalpara, Barpeta, Chenga, Boko, Chaygaon constituencies were summoned by the NRC authorities in far off places like Golaghat, Jorhat, Sivsagar, Dhemaji and others to prove their citizenship claim. The people were served the notices on August 3 and 4 and were asked them to appear before the NRC centres on August 5, giving them very little time to travel to such far off places over 500 kms away.
"One bus carrying over 50 such persons from Sontoli village in Kamrup to Golaghat met with an accident at Khanapara area of the city on Sunday night injuring over 30 of them. These were all poor people and for them it is not possible to travel such a long distance at such short notice. However, somehow they managed to get ready but this accident happened," said Barpeta-based activist Ashraful Hussain on Monday.
He said that one Razia Khatun (68) died due to heat stroke in one of the NRC centres at Kaliabar subdivision in Nagaon district.
"Khatun a resident of Joakatdia village in Kamrup district was summoned to NRC centre at Naltoli in Kaliabar for re-verification," Hussain said.
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) President Ripun Bora on Monday dashed off a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah urging him to stop immediately the "illegal" order for re-verification of the NRC draft list in Assam.
"The Supreme Court has recently rejected the petition of the Assam government and Central government for 20 per cent reverification of the names of people in draft NRC list. But surprisingly the NRC authority hurriedly issued thousands of notices to different persons across the state fixing August 5 as date for re-verification. This has created panic as the peope have noticed just one or two days ahead of the date," Bora said in his letter to Shah and sought his intervention.
Several social organisations have also condemned the sudden move of the NRC authorities and said innocent poor people have been subjected to suffering in the name of re-verification.
"How can the issue of re-verification even occur when the Supreme Court has rejected the petitions of the state and Central government seeking re-verification? We demand an explanation from the NRC authorities in this regard," said Hiren Gohain, a scholar and chairman of Forum against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.