A single alphabet can threaten your entire identity. That’s what has happened to many in the state of Assam.
Sample this: Five-year-old Saahin Ashwar’s name was misspelt as ‘Sachin’ Ashwar by the NRC officials. This was enough to knock him out of the Assam NRC list – a process initiated to identify illegal foreigners living in the state.
So now, while his parents have been included in the NRC, and by that logic declared ‘Indians’, Saahin’s status as Indian is under a shroud of doubt.
Is he an Indian or an illegal migrant?
For anyone to be included in the Assam NRC, they had to submit a pre-1971 document, either their own or one belonging to their ancestors, which could prove that they were in India before 24 March, 1971.
But, many allege that in spite of submitting valid documents they were ‘deliberately’ kept out by the NRC officials.
The 19 lakh people who haven’t made it to the NRC will end up fighting their cases in the foreigners tribunals, to claim their Indian citizenship.
For most of these people, who are poor and illiterate, it means going once again through the complicated process of documentation, hiring a lawyer to represent them in the foreigners tribunal and finally, incurring huge costs.
Many of them may not be able to afford this anymore. They may just resign to their fate of being stateless and end up in detention camps.
You can also watch the documentary on Assam NRC: