GUWAHATI, Sept 16 - Citing reports about alleged harassment and expulsion of people of Assam in some neighbouring States following publication of the final NRC, the Leader of the Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly Debabrata Saikia today called upon Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to get in touch with the governments of those States to ensure that such incidents do not take place.
“I would like to draw your attention to reports in the media that following publication of the final NRC visitors from Assam are being harassed afresh in certain neighbouring States, especially in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. It has been reported that certain students’ organisations of these states, with the cooperation of the respective police forces, are harassing visitors from Assam by seeking documentary proof of their inclusion in the final NRC as a pre-condition for allowing entry,” Saikia stated in a letter to the Chief Minister.
He said that a similar scenario of harassment and persecution had unfolded in these States after publication of the first draft of the NRC.
“For instance, the Chief Minister of Meghalaya recently revealed in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly that 223 persons from Assam were evicted from Meghalaya because they could not furnish documentary proof of their inclusion in the NRC. Although relevant data is not to hand, yet the situation cannot be expected to be any different in the other neighbouring States. It must be borne in mind that the Union Home Ministry has gone on record to assert that non-inclusion in the final NRC by itself does not brand a person as a foreigner,” stated Saikia.
He said that the Union Home Ministry has made it clear that the question of citizenship of those omitted from the NRC will be decided by the Foreigners Tribunals and, by implication, the higher judiciary.
“The harassment of residents of Assam in neighbouring states on the pretext of the NRC is absolutely unacceptable in the light of the Central government’s avowed policy. As such, I request you kindly to get in touch with the respective Chief Ministers of the neighbouring States in question and urge them to desist from this policy of harassment and expulsion of visitors from Assam,” added Saikia, who is also the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP).
Meanwhile, in a letter to NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela, the Opposition leader pointed to the reports in the media that the list posted on the NRC website pertaining to the final NRC is replete with misspelt first names and surnames.
“The errors are apparently the result of ignorance or unfamiliarity with local names on part of a section of data entry operators. As you can easily appreciate, this lacuna has the potential to cause a great deal of confusion and resultant harassment to genuine Indian citizens in future. While accepting the fact that many the victims of misspelt first names/surnames were negligent in seeking rectification of the errors in the phase before the final NRC was published, it would be unfair to leave the errors uncorrected even now,” stated Saikia.
He added, “Therefore, I request you kindly to evolve a mechanism as soon as possible whereby people can ensure rectification of the spellings of their names/surnames with minimum inconvenience to all concerned. I hope that you will treat the matter with due gravity in the larger public interest.”