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Building of detention centre adding to fears of NRC excluded

6091
By IANS Updated: Sep 06, 2019 11:14 pm
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Matia (Assam), Sep. 6 (IANS): The under-construction detention camp at Matia in western Assama’s Goalpara district is adding to the fear of thousands of people who failed to make it to the just published National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Out of the ten detention centres which are being built by the Assam government in different districts, the one at Matia in Goalpara is the largest one with capacity to house 3,000 inmates. The remaining nine detention centres will be constructed to house 1,000 inmates each.

While the construction of this centre has started, the construction works for other nine centres are yet to begin. The other nine detention centres are likely to be constructed at Barpeta, Dima Hasao, Kamrup, Karimganj, Lakhimpur, Nagaon, Nalbari, Sivasagar and Sonitpur.

While the estimated cost of construction for the detention centre at Matia is approximately Rs. 146 crore, the estimates cost for construction of all the ten centres is Rs. 1000 crore.

The final NRC published by the Assam government on August 31 have excluded the names of 1.9 million people. These excluded people have to approach the Foreigners’ Tribunals and make fresh claims to ascertain their Indian citizenship and can move to higher courts subsequently.

“We are genuine Indian people. My forefathers were born here in this land. However, in 1997 I was categorized as a “D” voter. Following which, I was served a notice from the Foreigners’ Tribunal. I pursued the case and finally the Session court in Goalpara district ruled in my favour saying that I am an Indian citizen. Yet my name is not there in the draft NRC,” said 55-year-old Saheb Ali, a resident of Khutamari village in the district.

Matia is located about 30 km from Khutamari village.

Saheb’s mother’s name is also not found in the NRC, which is worrying Saheb. He said that his mother’s name was included in the voter list of 1966. “We have submitted the documents while filing the forms. However, her name is not there in the draft NRC,” said a concerned Ali.

“We are not scared. We are Indian people, but yes I am concerned as the government is building some detention camps for those who fail to prove their Indian identity during the process. It will be difficult for us, if especially my mother had to spend days at detention centres at her age,” he said.

The fear of Ali and many others like him are being compounded as there are instances innocent people being sent to detention camps for failing to prove their identity.

One Mohammad Nur Mohammad, a resident of the Khutamari village, has already spent nine years and seven months in a detention centre before he was released last month following a Supreme Court order to release those who have spent more than 3 years in detention.

 

Hajela not efficient in discharging NRC duty, review needed —Gogoi writes to CJI

Guwahati, Sep. 6 (PTI): Senior Congress leader Tarun Gogoi has complained to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi that NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela did not discharge his duty efficiently while preparing the final list published last week, and requested him to review the matter.

The National Register of Citizens in Assam was updated under the monitoring of the Supreme Court and the final list which validates bonafide Indian citizens of the state, excluded over 19 lakh applicants.

In a letter to the CJI, Tarun Gogoi alleged that Hajela did not follow the direction of the apex court although over 50,000 government officials were engaged in the NRC updation job and around Rs 1,200 crore was spent at the cost of development work of the state.

“Now the question arises about the fates of several lakh people who have been left out of the NRC and have to move to Foreigners Tribunals to prove their citizenship and face harassment, not due to their faults but due to the callousness and inefficiency of the NRC authority,” he said.

In the letter written on Thursday and made available to PTI on Friday, the three-time Congress chief minister said a number of people were excluded though their names were there in the voters’ lists of both 1966 and 2019.

March 24, 1971, is the cut-off date for making a legitimate claim to Indian citizenship.

“The (voters’) list was prepared by Election Commission of India, a constitutional body, and so how could the names of people in it be excluded from the NRC,” Gogoi said.

The final NRC has been rejected by all political parties, social organisations and intellectuals of the state, Tarun Gogoi said.

He also claimed that BJP-headed governments at the state and the Centre are contradicting each other on the final NRC.

State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Assam BJP president Ranjit Dass rejected the document claiming it has anomalies, whereas a statement of the Ministry of External Affairs maintained that the NRC update was statutory, transparent and a legal process, mandated and monitored by the Supreme Court, the Congress leader said in the letter.

“The state government, if I am not wrong, is trying to blame the Supreme Court by making allegations that they had their limitations due to the interference of the highest court,” he wrote to the CJI.

The central government, and not the Supreme Court, is the implementing authority and in “my view it is the total failure of the Centre,” Tarun Gogoi added.

He appealed to the CJI to review the matter and ensure that genuine Indian citizens are “not deprived of their dignity and right to life and liberty as enshrined in the Indian Constitution”.

Parties across the political divide have called the final NRC faulty, with some saying they would appeal against it in the Supreme Court.

6091
By IANS Updated: Sep 06, 2019 11:14:52 pm