04, Mar 2019 | CJP Team
On March 1, 2019, close to 300 people were called to the Divisional Forest Office (DFO) in Biswanath District for hearing regarding their Claims applications for inclusion into the National Register of Citizens. However, when no official turned up to conduct the hearing, CJP stepped in and wrote to the NRC State Coordinator. Following this authorities were compelled to conduct the hearing.
The people who had gathered at the DFO at Biswanath Chairali had come from places as far as Gauhati (200 kms), Lakhimpur (100 kms) and Shiv Sagar (200 kms). They had all been instructed to appear for the hearing between 10 a.m and 11 a.m. However, not a single official turned up to conduct the hearing leaving people exasperated.
When no officer turned up to conduct the hearing by even 1 p.m, we received a call on the CJP helpline 1800 1020 138. This helpline had been set up by CJP to help the people of Assam with their queries and concerns with respect to the NRC Claims and Objections process.
Over four million people have been left out of the NRC draft, most of them from socio-economically backward communities. Now CJP, drawing from its previous experience in providing legal aid in Gujarat, will step in with a multi-faceted team of lawyers and volunteers to ensure that these people receive a fair chance while filing claims across 18 of the worst affected districts. Your contribution can help cover the costs of a legal team, travel, documentation and technological expenses. Please donate generously here.
“A Hindi speaking man, Mr. Singh, called us to apprise us of the situation and asked for our help. We immediately swung into action,” says Zamser Ali, CJP’s Assam State Team Coordinator. “I personally called NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela at least 10 times, but he did not receive my call. So I wrote to him on Whatsapp,” he added.
This is the letter that Zamser Ali wrote to Mr. Hajela: (Edited for clarity)
To, The State Co-ordinator, NRC Aschyut Plaza, G.S. Road, Guwahati Sub: Absence of hearing officials Dated: Guwahati, the 1st March, 2019 Respected Sir, With due humble submission, I have the honour to state following few words for your kind information and necessary prompt action. 1. That sir, many people, called for hearing regarding updation of NRC, are facing unnecessary trouble due to some condition cited in the notice served for hearing proposes. When the head of the family or holder of the Application Receipt Number (ARN) is attending the hearing, it is not necessary to ask all family members of the ARN holder to attend the hearing. Though when the notice is served for hearing purpose, attendance of all members has not been made compulsory, it is also not stated clearly, leading to confusion. Therefore, people attend hearings with the whole family, which is both, expensive and troublesome for the general people. 2. That sir, on many occasions, when people come to hearing fully prepared, they are asked to attend the hearing on another date as office verification reports of many documents, that were submitted earlier, couldn't be completed. It has become undue harassment for the general public. 3. That sir, on many occasions, persons are called for hearing, but they have to return due to absence of officials deputed for hearing. Just today, a large number of people were called for hearing at DFO office, Biswanath Chariali under Biswanath District. But, no officials were present to conduct the hearing. 4. That sir, when one person is asked to attend on another date for hearing, nothing is given in writing to the claimants. It may be troublesome for the general public. 5. That Sir, in several places, many officials are rejecting claim applications due to minor discrepancies in the names, titles, ages etc. in different documents. So, I on behalf of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) request your kind to take appropriate measures for an error free and inclusive NRC. Thanking you Zamser Ali State Team Coordinator Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) on NRC works. Date: 01.03.2019
Mr. Ali sent the letter via Whatsapp to Mr. Hajela at 3 p.m. That’s when the administration was forced to take cognisance of the dire situation and officials were rushed to the spot. “The hearing finally began at about 4 p.m and went on till about 9 p.m,” says Ali. “It is only because CJP put pressure that the hearing was even conducted,” asserts Zamser Ali.
“CJP has been making several such interventions every day to keep the process moving and help maximum number of people through the tedious Claims and Objections process,” he elaborates. “We make interventions on both, personal and community levels. Our only hope is that the administration ensures that the process is smooth and does not add unnecessary hurdles or complications that adversely affect the common public,” he adds.
CJP urges you to call us on 1800 1020 138 in case you face any difficulty with the Claims and Objections process, whether it is related to documentation, hearings or any other queries. He are here to help you.
*Feature Image: Representational Image of women waiting to complete Claims formalities in Baghmari in Biswanath District.