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CAA: Can Bengali Hindus, Who are Out of Assam NRC, Now Get Indian Citizenship?

According to the Assam Government, over 96,000 people in the state have been marked as 'Doubtful' (D) voters.

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Video Editor: Arnab Chakravorty

In 2011, the Foreigners Tribunal-4 of Silchar, Assam issued a notice to Anjali Roy of Katigorah doubting her Indian citizenship. In 2015, she proved her identity as an Indian citizen by producing the necessary documents but her name was never included in the voters' list. Instead, she was made ineligible for all government schemes including the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

61-year-old Anjali wants to apply for Indian citizenship again with the help of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) so that she can start living as an Indian and qualify for Govt benefits. But she's not keen to falsely declare that she’s a Bangladeshi migrant.

"My father and grandfather were born in India, this land was never a part of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), so our family didn't have to migrate. So why should I declare myself as a migrant?"
Anjali Roy

According to the Assam Government, over 96,000 people in the state have been marked as 'Doubtful' (D) voters, most of these people are Bengali Hindus and CAA gives them a chance to get Indian citizenship.

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According to social activist and author, Kamal Chakraborty, these Bengali Hindus won't apply for citizenship with CAA because then officially they would have to accept that they are from Bangladesh. Something that none of them want to do.

"During the National Register of Citizens (NRC) updation in Assam, most people had declared themselves as Indian citizens and now they have to submit a self-determination calling themselves Bangladeshis. This will be contradictory and people won't apply for citizenship under CAA to avoid this situation."
Kamal Chakraborty, Author and activist

Socio-political organisations like the All Assam Bengali Hindu Association (AABHA), North East Linguistic and Ethnic Coordination Committee (NELECC), and the South Assam wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have demanded amendment in CAA rules and have asked the central government to make the process more people-friendly.

Members of AABHA, in a letter to the Prime Minister, have demanded the inclusion of "Self Declaration" and an option in Schedule 1A, which requires a person to submit documents to prove that they were a resident of Bangladesh, Pakistan, or Afghanistan.

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Though there is fear and apprehension about the CAA rules, 78-year-old Manindra Das from Karimganj district of Assam has been waiting for this moment since 2019, when the CAA was passed in the parliament.

"I don't deny that my family migrated from Bangladesh."
Manindra Das

Manindra, a fisherman by profession, was arrested from his home by the border police in 2019, he was then sent to the Foreigners Detention Centre in Silchar for two years. He was released on bail in 2021.

"I have a Refugee Registration Card issued by the government of India and I'll apply with this. Even if it takes time to get Indian citizenship with CAA, I will wait."
Manindra Das

Barak Valley, where the majority of Bengalis live, hasn’t seen any protests against CAA so far. However mass protests against the new law took place in the Brahmaputra valley of the state where the indigenous communities live.

"CAA is an injustice towards the people of Assam and North East India. Our fundamental question is, how is it good for Assam if CAA is bad for Mizoram or Arunachal Pradesh? If it is wrong for Assam's Kokrajhar and Karbi Anglong, how is it good for Nagaon and Kamrup? Assam is not a dumping ground for immigrants."
Samujjal Bhattacharya, Chief Advisor (AASU)

The largest student body in the North East, the All Assam Students' Union (AASU), is at the forefront of these protests, and the members have also submitted a petition against CAA before the Supreme Court.

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Topics:  NRC Assam   NRC Exclusion   CAA 

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