GUWAHATI, July 20 - Rights activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) is planning to train over 200 paralegals in Assam to facilitate legal discourse for those who would be forced to approach courts after the publication of the final NRC.
Stating that its volunteers have been working tirelessly to ensure that no bonafide Indian citizen is left out of the NRC, the CJP has sought donations for training paralegals and helping in claim hearings as well as proceedings before the Foreigners’ Tribunals.
The NGO claimed that in Assam, nearly 60 people have lost their lives and their deaths were connected to citizenship-related issues.
“While some have allegedly committed suicide due to frustration, anxiety and helplessness related to the National Register of Citizens (NRC), some allegedly took their own lives fearing incarceration in detention camps. There are also some people who died under rather mysterious circumstances in detention camps,” the NGO said on its webpage.
In a video shared on social media, the NGO claimed that while the NRC modalities were relatively clear and practical earlier, “subsequent manipulations and political and bureaucratic diktats have rendered the process of updating the NRC open to question”, and cited the instances of non-acceptance of village heads' certificate as a valid linkage document.
Pointing to the recent incident of former army man Md Sanaullah who was declared a foreigner by an FT and sent to a detention camp before his release was ordered by a higher court, the video also raised doubts on the functioning of the FTs which were “not transparent and not manned by judicial officers”.
The NGO said as the date for publishing the final NRC draft is nearing, there is “widespread fear in Assam”.
“The NRC process has disproportionately affected the poorest of society. Something needs to be done and we are willing to do it. Last year, our volunteers helped lakhs of people negotiate the complex NRC process. Recently, eminent lawyers and activists visited Assam to showcase ground realities,” the video added, demanding a transparent process in FTs.