Assam NRC: Procedural lapses and prejudices left out genuine citizens

Popular Front of India Central Secretariat in a statement issued after the release of the Assam NRC final list has said that the exclusion of nearly two million people was tragic and that procedural lapses and prejudices have left genuine Indian citizens out of the list. The statement questioned the official claim that the process was carried out objectively and transparently.

Though the NRC excercise was Supreme Court-monitored, norms of natural justice were violated at ground levels. After the final list, in several cases, members of same families got divided as two categories of citizens and non-citizens. In many cases father is citizen while children are not, while brother is citizen, sister is not. Widespread complaints had come up about the process which has declared about 6% of the state population non-citizens. The fact that even people served in government services and armed forces found their name excluded from the list speaks of a process riddled with error and bias. Hence the tall claims about the objectivity are mere hoax.

The assurance that those who have been left out from the final list will be given the opportunity to prove their citizenship in Foreigner Tribunals and higher courts and that they will not be treated as foreigners is not sufficient. The quality of FT judges and professionalism in their functioning were criticised as of very low level.

There is no clarity regarding interim status of those who are not in the list; whether they will have their civil rights including electoral participation until their cases are decided.

While the authorities ask people not to panic, strong apprehensions exists among people and civil rights activists that those left out of the list might face not only disenfranchisement but also jail time or deportation, specially when the government has announced its plan to build 10 more detention centres. Reports say that nearly 1,000 people are currently lodged in six detention centres.

The Central Secretariat statement pointed out that Assam state Popular Front leaders held a press conference yesterday in Gauhati and reiterated our determination to continue struggles for the citizenship right of all people in Assam. Popular Front of India appealed the Indian civil society to be alert not to allow such a large scale humanitarian tragedy to take place in Assam.