12, Oct 2019 | Muskan Khator
NGOs present sordid tales from Assam at ‘solidarity meet’; say 19 lakh excluded
Anima Dey from Assam lost her son Subrata in the Goalpara detention camp, said to be the deadliest of the six detention camps in the State: 10 inmates have been found dead in that camp alone. “Whenever I went to meet him, I couldn’t speak to him freely since the guards were always around. Four days before his death, I assured him that we will be approaching the Guwahati High Court and he was hopeful,” she said. “We were given vague reasons for the cause of death and weren’t given the death certificate or the post- mortem reports.”
Ms. Dey’s nightmare didn’t end there, though. The Dey family, who have not been included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC), have to travel several kilometres for the tribunal proceedings. The economic impact has been devastating, as Subrata was the sole earning member in the family with a meagre income. His son Biki was forced to give up his education and work as a tailor’s apprentice to earn for the family.
There are other threads in this story. Like that of Hasan Ali, who attempted suicide last year when his name was excluded from the list. Or Rashminara Begum, who was three months pregnant when she was sent to a detention camp due to a minor discrepancy in her date of birth, and Saken Ali, who had to spend five years in detention camps because of a minor spelling mistake in his name.
These were all accounts that unfolded at a “solidarity meeting” in the city on Friday, organised by non governmental organisations like Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), which have been working for the victims for the past two years.
CJP members said, in the final list published on August 31 this year, 19 lakh citizens were excluded from the register. “It is unfortunate how both the government and the bureaucracy have completely betrayed their own people. Some of the worst affected people belong to oppressed and marginalised communities. Sixty-nine percent of those affected are women,” said CJP Secretary Teesta Setalvad.
Suraj Gogoi from the Northeast Collective of IIT Bombay, said the NRC legitimises xenophobia in the State. “Recently, we have been forced to accept such measures as normal while these means of control are exceptionally inhuman,” he said.
CJP members said they will continue to extend aid to those the NRC has affected, including having more such meetings across the country, filing a petition to question the NRC’s constitutional viability, and providing counselling services and legal aid to those wishing to file appeals.
The meeting also witnessed attendance from representatives of several other human rights groups. The meerting ended with a panel discussion on the question, “Is NRC really on the assumption that illegal immigrants will harm the nation or is it a part of the existing majoritarian politics?”
The original story may be read here.