Hindu and Muslim groups have begun preparations to help Bengali speakers who have been left out of the NRC process. Out of the 3.29 crore applications received by the NRC, the names of around 40 lakh people in Assam haven’t been included in the second and final draft. The first draft released in December last year had the names of 1.9 crore people.
A breakaway faction of Hindu Samhatihas started an online fundraising effort to help the Bengali speaking Hindus in Assam who have been left out of the “complete draft” of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) released Monday in Guwahati.
Muslim organisations, too, are planning campaigns to provide legal help to those who have been left out of the list.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while campaigning in 2014, said that those who have sought refuge in the country from religious persecution in the neighbouring countries like Bangladesh will get citizenship in India. The central government is also trying to bring a law in this connection. However, now lakhs of Hindus in Assam are losing their citizenship because of NRC. Fate of many families is now at the mercy of the government,” said Prasun Maitra, advocate with Calcutta High Court, who along with others have initiated the fund-raising initiative.
The online effort plans to pool in Rs 25 lakh. It was initiated on July 24 and already Rs 1.5 lakh has been raised, an official said.
“We plan to send a team to Assam. They will document everything, take interviews and videograph the victims. We will also highlight their plight nationally. Neither the Centre nor the state government has not charted out a road map for those who have been left out of the list. We will also plan for their repatriation. There are at least 8 to 10 lakh Bengali-speaking Hindus in Assam,” said Maitra, who is part of a breakaway faction of Hindu Samhati, an ultra right Hindu group in Kolkata.
As per plan, some of the funds will be used for rehabilitation in case of a pushback. Some of the funds will be spent on organising rallies and seminars in Bengal and Assam. Legal support will also be provided.
The group also plans to bring in leaders from different parties of Bengal to speak on the issue. Maitra said he feared that a lack of a road map will cause an influx in Bengal, which also does not have a plan ready for rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, Muslim organisations in Bengal are also planning a nationwide stir to protect the rights of Bengali speaking people in Assam.
“The BJP is trying to make lakhs of Bengali-speaking people homeless. We have planned to form a national legal aid forum to help the victims. We will also hold seminars to raise the issue,” said Md Kamaruzzaman, head of the All India Minority Youth Federation. He claimed that the organisation is in regular touch with families in Assam.
“We will also hit the streets. India shares good relationship with Bangladesh. Why didn’t our Prime Minister speak with Sheikh Hasina before the NRC list was out? Papers from local elected representatives, panchayats and other documents should be acceptable. For instance many of those living along the embankments of Brahmaputra have lost papers due to recurrent floods. These are not being kept in mind while drawing up the list,” said Kamaruzzaman.
“We have already formed groups comprising legal experts and social workers. Some of them are in Assam helping out the people to submit papers to the administration. This is a politically motivated move and lakhs are being harassed. We are also keeping a watch on what political parties are doing over this issue,” said Muhammed Nooruddin, president of the West Bengal chapter of Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind.