Cameraperson: Tridip K Mandal
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
The final list of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) has left out 19,06,657 people. While the demography of those excluded haven’t been made public, the general perception is that those excluded mostly consist of Bengali-speaking people.
This perception goes in line with the idea of the Assam NRC, which was supposed to protect the indigenous Assamese people and detect illegal foreigners living in the state.
But has it really been able to do so?
Travelling to the Hojai district in Central Assam, The Quint met people belonging to indigenous Assamese communities who have, ironically, been left out of the final NRC list.
In Topojori village of the Hojai district, Pradeep Bora still hasn’t come to terms with the fact that he, his wife and their four children are not on the final NRC list.
Bora and his family are ‘khilonjia’ Assamese – one of the oldest communities of Assam.
“We were very concerned when our name didn’t come in the first draft. When I checked with the NRC officials, they assured us that we need not worry, that our names will come in the final draft.”Pradeep Bora, Resident, Topojori
A small-time farmer, Pradeep Bora had submitted the 1966 voters’ list of his father as a legacy document, along with birth certificates and school certificates of his children – documents which he thought were solid proof of establish that he was a bonafide resident of Assam and India.
“I was born in Assam. I am a native, a son of the soil. Our ancestors have lived here for centuries. I feel bad that we are being treated this way.”Pradeep Bora, Resident, Topojori
In the nearby Akashiganga area, Mulani Bordoloi, also a ‘khilonjia’ Assamese, questions the whole NRC process and what it sought to achieve.
“After spending so much money, the authorities couldn’t bring out a flawless NRC. If Assamese people are declared as Bangladeshis and Bangladeshis as citizens of Assam, then what is the use of living in Assam for so many years? There’s no meaning in being the natives of Assam now.”Mulani Bordoloi, Resident, Akashiganga
Travelled across Assam, one link can be found in common in terms of the NRC – cutting across religious and linguistic lines, the indigenous Assamese communities and the Bengali-speaking people, the ones who have not made it to the NRC mostly seem to consist of the poor and illiterate.