Assam is a Northeastern Indian state with an estimated 3 crore population. On August 31, 2019, Assam government published the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) list where more than 19 lakh people failed to make it to the list and are waiting to be declared as foreigners through a process called NRC.
The process aimed to identify ”illegal immigrants” who have been living in the state without any valid document and proof. Anyone who wants to be qualified to remain in the list has to produce any document issued before midnight of March 24, 1971, where the name of self or ancestor appears to prove residence in Assam up to midnight of March 24, 1971.
The final result has left around 19 lakh people stateless who as part of the process will be stripped of their Indian citizenship. They will not be able to enjoy the basic rights as other Indians do. But the question remains where will they go? Will they be deported to neighbouring countries from where they came long back to India in search of a secure life?
The answer to this question is perhaps more harrowing. India is building detention camps for those who have been left out of the list. One such centre considered to be the largest as of now is being constructed on 20 bighas (28,800 sq ft) land located at Matia in Goalpara district of Assam. It will house around 3000 detainees. The centre funded by the central government comes at the expense of approximately Rs 450 Million. The centre will be ready by December this year.
Assam has six detention camps and the government is planning to construct ten more. Government sources confirmed that there are six temporary detention centres in Assam where there are 1136 detainees and 25 people died due to health issues. A few months back, a video was shown on social media where an elderly man declared as a foreigner was found lying handcuffed in Assam’s Goalpara Civil Hospital. This is heart-wrenching as well as disturbing to see people suffering to such an extent that makes our eyes teary.
A good number of people believe that the process has many faults. Many genuine voters have been left out of the list. An ex-army man who fought the Kargil war against Pakistan has been excluded from the list. One of the prominent scientists of the ISRO, Dr Jitendra Nath Goswami along with his family was excluded from the final NRC list. Dr. Goswami incidentally happens to be the brother of the current speaker of Assam Assembly.
As an Indian citizen myself, I would like to request the government to conduct the move more transparently and attentively, since this is the question of losing one’s citizenship.
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