Additional NRC draft exclusion list: Names of Assam movement leader's family members excluded

It was 26 June, 1980. The Assam movement demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was only a year old then and was at its peak. Vaijayanti Devi, a girl in her early twenties who was known as an activist in the movement, participated in the “Rannsinga Divas” organised by All Assam Students Union in her home district Tezpur to further strengthen the movement.

“Thousands of students along with Vaijayanti Devi blew conch shells, declaring the coming of the movement. While blowing the conch shell, she suffered a stroke and immediately fell senseless. She was immediately hospitalised but later passed away,” said Arup Talukdar, president of Tezpur District Committee of AASU.

Later, Vaijayanti Devi was listed among the youths who sacrificed their lives in the movement. Her brother Rajen Upadhyay was given a job in the social welfare department in recognition of her contribution to her sacrifice. After the movement, the activists formed a government in 1985.

But 39 years later and on the same date as the “Rannsinga Divas”, late Vaijayanti’s sister-in-law and Rajen’s wife Nirmala Devi’s name has been dropped from the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a procedure initiated to identify illegal immigrants.

On Wednesday, the state co-ordinator of the NRC issued an additional exclusion list with names of 1,02, 462 persons whose names were earlier included in the NRC, but were later found to be ineligible to qualify as Indian citizens.

 Additional NRC draft exclusion list: Names of Assam movement leaders family members excluded

An NRC centre in Assam. Reuters

“We don’t know what went wrong. We just know that her name was included in the earlier drafts of the NRC. On 26th June, her name appeared in the exclusion list, which means that her name has been dropped,” said Rajen told Firstpost.

Like a fairly good number of government officials in Assam, Rajen, now a 54-year-old man, is busy in the works related to NRC update.

He said that his family has not received any notice from the office of the state co-ordinator of the NRC, but is getting ready to re-submit all the documents to claim his wife’s citizenship.

“We have not been told what to do. But we will certainly receive directions about how to proceed with the matter. Given the fact that all the members of my wife’s family have already been included in the NRC, I think the problem is merely related to documentation and would be solved soon,” he hoped.

The state co-ordinator of the NRC issued a press statement on 26 June explaining the reasons why names have been included in the additional exclusion list.

 

But the instance of Vaijayanti Devi’s family member not included in the NRC has not gone down well with everyone.

“It is painful to see that not only late Vaijayanti’s Devi’s sister-in-law but also her nephews have not been included in the NRC,” said Arup Talukdar, president of Tezpur unit of AASU.

Rajen admitted that the names of his two sons were also not included in the first or second draft of the NRC, though he himself was included in it.

“One of my sons is 19 years old and the other is 16 years old. Being my sons, they have the same legacy to prove,” said Rajen.

He hoped that all of them find their names in the final NRC to be published on 31 July.

But Dorbesh Moulavi, resident of Dhubri district whose daughter-in-laws' name was dropped from the NRC, said that the time provided to claim their citizenship was not enough to collect the requisite documents.

“We have been told to re-claim citizenship before 11 July. But we will have to collect documents from a different state. So the time provided is not enough,” he said.

Moulabi’s daughter-in-law Asma Khatoon hails from West Bengal, though she studied and grew up in Assam.

“Some of the documents related to her legacy exist with the West Bengal government. We have been informed by the office of the state co-ordinator of NRC that some of the documents are illegible. Hence, we have to collect documents from the concerned offices of the West Bengal government again. This requires few days,” he said.

Upamanyu Hazarika, a lawyer in the Supreme Court of India who has been vocal about the issue related to identification of illegal migrants, said that the NRC update is all about documentation. “If you fulfill the criteria to be in the list, you make it. Or else you do not make it. It is as simple as that," he said.

But he admitted that there are also administrative fallacies which sometimes govern the procedure.

“If a person, born and brought up in one district, submits his documents in another one, he may not find his name in the NRC,” he added.

About the people included in the exclusion list, he said that most of the people named in the list are the ones who are either declared foreign nationals or are fighting cases in the foreigner tribunals to prove their citizenship.

“We have to remember that NRC update is a gargantuan procedure. Some names may mistakenly be included in the exclusion list,” he added.

Talukdar told Firstpost that his organisation has given representation to the authorities to correct the mistakes and include the names of the family members of late Vaijayanti Devi in the NRC.

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Updated Date: Jun 29, 2019 17:13:36 IST