As India celebrated its 73rd Independence Day, people in Assam are living in uncertainty, not knowing if the ongoing NRC or National Register of Citizens will identify them as Indians or illegal foreigners.
The final NRC will be declared on 31 August and in a last minute move, the NRC officials issued notices to hundreds of people in Assam to appear for their hearings within a day. Not knowing what lay in store, people rushed to reach the NRC centres which were hundreds of kilometres away from their homes. For many, it was their last journey. Arzina Begum was one of them.
Arzina was studying in Class 8 at the Jabal-e-Rahman Academy in Boko. This independence day, as the students hoisted the tri-colour and sang the national anthem, they also remembered their departed friend, who had to travel more than 300 kms to Golaghat for her NRC hearing. Arzina was killed when the speeding bus she was travelling in met with an accident.
I was Arzina’s best friend since childhood. We are in Class 8 now. The day before she had to go for the NRC hearing she had an intuition that it would be her last journey. She told us that she won’t be coming back. We are in complete shock that she could foresee what was going to happen with her.Fatima Akhtar, Arzina’s friend.
The NRC website says that a person should be given 15 days of travel time when they are served notices for hearings. Even the Supreme Court directed that hearings should happen at nearby places.
But for many from Dakachang village, only a day’s time was given to appear for the NRC hearing at Golaghat which is more than 300kms away. Many students from Jabal-e-Rahman Academy had to go for these last minute NRC hearings with their parents. Most of them are not sure what will happen when the NRC list comes out on 31 August. Will they remain legal Indians? But for now it is time to celebrate India’s Independence Day and proudly say that they are Indians.
It is estimated that more than a million won’t make it to the final list. The Supreme Court has directed that only the exclusions should be published online.
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