NEW DELHI, July 13 - Describing the on-going National Register of Citizens (NRC) updating process as a genuine exercise to identify illegal migrants, the United Against Hate (UAH) – an NGO – today said that there seems no communal tension between Hindus and Muslim in Assam.
The NGO, however, decried the condition of the detention centres and alleged gross human rights violations there. They also raised questions about the implementation of the NRC guidelines and alleged that there was bias at the lower level and genuine citizens were being dubbed ‘D’ voters and foreigners and put behind bars.
The UAH today released a ‘fact-finding report’ on ‘Assam Doubtful Citizenship, Distorted Rights’. The fact-finding team, headed by former IGP of Uttar Pradesh Police SR Darapuri, included Amit Sen Gupta (journalist), Nadeem Khan (activist), Manisha Bhalla (journalist), Khalid Daifi (activist), Laeeq Ahmad Khan (activist), Majid Mazahari (activist), Bazlul Basit Choudhury (activist), Shakil Ahmed (journalist), Tarique Anwar (journalist) and Avinash Sourov (video journalist).
The team, during their field study, also met former Chief Ministers Tarun Gogoi and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, besides Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi, Prof Hiren Gohain and Prof Dilip Bora, among others. The team also drew heavily from the report of Harsh Mander, who was appointed by NHRC to look into the NRC issue.
Giving a brief background of the foreigners’ issue while releasing the report in a press conference here, Amit Sen Gupta claimed to have visited the detention centre at Goalpara where 239 detenues were lodged. A crisis is brewing because of the bias in the Foreigner’s Tribunal, he said and added, the Tribunals are not entirely efficient.
Admitting that Bengali Hindus and women were most affected, he said the NRC is a difficult exercise and the BJP government seems to have an agenda. The Bengali Hindus and Muslim citizens might get isolated. There may be a crisis in the making, he observed.
Describing the concept of ‘D’ voters as completely illegal, which has no place in the Constitution, the leader of the team said there can be citizens and non-citizens but no doubtful citizens.
“In majority of the cases, we found people being declared foreigners ex-parte. And therefore, they end up languishing in jails in the name of detention centres. We also found that people were declared foreigners but they have not been provided with a copy of the judgment, so that they can challenge the verdict in the superior courts,” Darapuri said.
With the final draft of the NRC scheduled to be out by July 30, lakhs of people will be rendered stateless and there is apparently no plan about what is to be done to them. Deporting such a huge number of people appears to be practically impossible. If it happens, it will create a monumental crisis. Deployment of additional security forces is an indication to the upcoming chaotic situation.
Prof Hiren Gohain told the UAH team that if one particular document has been found invalid, it doesn’t mean that they can throw them to the woods. “They are poor women and in India poor people usually keep no documents. There should be natural justice and they should be given a chance to prove their credentials,” Prof Gohain said.
Akhil Gogoi, on the other hand accused the BJP and the AIUDF of allegedly pushing for inclusion of foreigners in the updated NRC.