Struggles Assam Families Faced to Attend Last-Minute NRC Hearings
The National Register of Citizens (NRC), an exercise which aims to identify illegal foreigners living in Assam, is in its last phase, with the final list scheduled to be released on 31 August.
However, in the last one month, the NRC authorities have served notices to people for last-minute re-verification hearings.
On 3 August, thousands of people in Assam received notices. Many like Mohd Yousuf Ali had to appear for the hearing within 24 hours.
“Our hearing was on 5 August but we got the notice on 3 August at 7 pm at night. We kept thinking how will we reach Jorhat and from where we will get the vehicles to go there. Almost eight to ten thousand people from neighbouring villages got the notices. Every family had to shell out 30-50 thousand rupees. After that, we went for the hearing.”Mohd Yousuf Ali, Resident, Jawkatudia Village
The NRC rules stipulates that a person should be given at least 15 days’ time to appear for a hearing after receiving a notice. But, people who got notices in early August had just a day or two to appear for the hearing.
“The move by the NRC authorities to issue notices to people in such short duration, giving short time to attend the hearings, I think there is some pressure from the government. We have been witnessing for quite some time that there is a deliberate attempt to discredit the whole process of NRC by the government itself.”Shantanu Borthakur, Advocate, Guwahati High Court
As they were given such short notice, respondents had to arrange a substantial amount of money to travel to the hearing centres.
What complicated matters further is the fact that members of the same family had to appear for hearings at different locations on the same date.
In most of the hearings, the relationship between family members were re-verified, documents of identification and legacy collected as well as fingerprints taken.
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