03, Mar 2022 | CJP Team
While, we have encountered several heart-rending instances of death and despair in our work helping people of Assam defend their Indian citizenship, we were particularly shaken by the case of Hasan Ali – a man pushed to the brink of reason, just because a government employee was careless. The fact that unprofessionalism could cost a man his life, is a reality that haunts our fellow Indian citizens in Assam,
Our team first heard about Hasan Ali on March 8, 2019, when we learnt that he had attempted suicide. We reached the spot minutes after his friends had cut down the rope that he had used to hang himself from a tree near him house in Hanschara village in Morigaon district of Assam. After he recovered his breath and composure, Ali told us that he took the extreme measure because his name had been excluded from the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) that was published on July 31, 2018.
Over the last three years, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) has had the opportunity to help several of our fellow Indians in Assam. We have helped them navigate the complex process of having their names included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC), first via document collection and form filling, and then by guiding them through the Claims and Objections process. CJP has also helped eligible inmates get released from Assam’s detention camps and continues to support many of the most impoverished families by providing them food rations. As you take a deep dive into the trials and tribulations of some such people, remember, we have been able to help them only because of your continued support. Please donate now, so we can help more of our fellow Indians in Assam.
We have counselled several such people who felt that the only way out of such a hopeless situation was death. So, we listened intently as Ali shared his story.
He told us that he had filed his application in 2015 and was shocked to discover that his name was missing from the list. When he complained to the NRC Authority, he was told that he had not submitted any application. But Ali promptly produced not only a receipt, but also the Application Registration Number (ARN).
He then sent a complaint letter to the Nagorik Seva Kendra (NSK) where he had filed his application. That’s when it was discovered that his application had been placed with document of “doubtful” or D Voters by accident, and this is why his paperwork was never processed.The NRC authority accepted its mistake and promised to fix the problem. The Deputy Commissioner of Morigaon directed the circle officer and CRCR to immediately rectify the issue. But no progress was made and a frustrated Ali tried to hang himself on March 8.
We assured him of CJP’s support and counselled him to not lose hope. CJP stepped in and started following up with the NRC authorities. We collected all his documents once again and submitted them to district authorities to ensure his name would not be left out of the Final NRC. When the Final NRC was published on August 31, 2019, we made sure that a CJP volunteer was present with Hasan Ali when he checked the list, as we feared he might try to take his life once again in his fragile mental state.
To his relief, his name was included in this list. But we weren’t wrong about our fears either. Still bearing emotional scars of the trauma he had encountered, Hasan Ali told us, “I would have attempted suicide again, had my name been excluded this time.” But as he felt the burden of fear and uncertainty being lifted, he told us, “I feel happiness in my heart,” adding, “If not for CJP, I’d be dead.”
Hasan Ali also visited Mumbai to meet civil society members and concerned citizens and share his story in October 2019. It appears CJP’s support and constant counselling had helped him as he appeared to have got a new lease of life. A re-invigorated Hasan Ali, shared his plight, but asked others not to lose hope.
“I hope you continue to help many others, so that no one else has to go through what I did,” he told us. “I’m grateful to CJP for helping me and will do what I can to help you on ground in Assam as long as there is a single drop of blood in my body,” promised Hasan Ali, before he went back home.