How Do I Prove to Assam NRC That My Wife Is an Indian?
How Do I Prove to Assam NRC That My Wife Is an Indian?
(Photo: iStock)

How Do I Prove to Assam NRC That My Wife Is an Indian?

How do I prove to the Assam NRC that my wife is an Indian?

This is a question I have been unsuccessfully seeking an answer to for the last year-and-a-half – at least ever since I submitted the application for enrolment of my family into the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The aim of the NRC is to identify foreigners, particularly people from Bangladesh, who have illegally entered Assam after 25 March 1971, and separate these illegal immigrants from genuine Indian citizens.

But even for those who were in Assam before 25 March 1971 or whose ancestors were living in the state before that date, the process to enrol into the NRC IS NOT SIMPLE.

The one basic rule that the NRC has adopted is tracing one’s legacy. One has to show that he/she is linked to a family member whose name was there in the NRC of 1951 or to any of Assam’s electoral rolls prepared till 1971. Such legacy data was uploaded on the NRC website sometime in 2015.
The legacy data from the NRC website shows the author’s father’s name in the 1966 voters’ list.
The legacy data from the NRC website shows the author’s father’s name in the 1966 voters’ list.
(Photo: Tridib K Mandal)

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Coming back to my story, we are a family of four – my mother, daughter Ruhaani, and wife Sudipa and I – but only three of us could provide our legacy record — my mother, my daughter, and I.

We could not trace Sudipa’s legacy data. It’s almost certain than her name won’t be there when the first draft of the NRC is published on 31 December 2017. Sudipa’s case is similar to lakhs of married women in Assam who have found it extremely tough to prove their legacy.

It is estimated that only 40 percent names out of 2.38 crore applicants will feature in the first draft.
The NRC acknowledgement slip states that Sudipa Mandal’s NRC is not verified.
The NRC acknowledgement slip states that Sudipa Mandal’s NRC is not verified.
(Photo: Tridib K Mandal)

Also Read : Amendments to Citizenship Act in Assam is BJP’s Political Ploy

Sudipa was born in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. She holds an Indian passport, has a voter ID card, and an Aadhaar number. But since she was born well after 1971, merely having these documents are not enough to enroll her name into the NRC.

What’s more important is that her father’s name figures in one of the following documents which were issued before the midnight of 25 March 1971. These documents would prove his residence in Assam before that date.

  • 1951 NRC
  • Electoral roll(s) up to 24 March 1971 (midnight)
  • Land and tenancy records OR
  • Passport
  • LIC
  • Bank/post office accounts OR
  • Birth certificate
  • Board/university educational certificate

This maze of documentation has made the NRC process very complicated for Sudipa. Her father lives in Meghalaya, which was previously part of Assam but became a separate state on 21 January 1972. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, he couldn’t find any pre-1971 document, so this puts Sudipa’s NRC enrolment into jeopardy.

For now, the NRC has given us some time to prove Sudipa’s citizenship.

Just like Sudipa, millions in Assam are going through this dilemma, those whose NRC enrolment is stuck because of lack of documentation or delay in verification of documents by other states or education boards which are outside Assam. Over 50 lakh documents were sent for verification, of which only 1.5 lakh have been verified by other states.

Unlike Assam, for other states, the NRC is certainly not top priority. So, they are taking their own sweet time.

As for Sudipa, now it is up to us if we can dig out some pre-1971 document which will prove her dad’s legacy in Assam. Till then, the question will linger – how do I prove to the NRC that my wife is an Indian? And what happens if I am unable to do so?

(Disclaimer: Tridip K Mandal is the creative director of The Quint and has written this blog in his personal capacity as a resident of Assam, and not as a journalistic piece)

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