The NRC authorities ought to continue hearing various complaints of anomalies in the NRC list in an impartial manner, a forum of eminent citizens of Assam said on Monday, adding that they object to the passing on of the cases of the NRC excluded people to the state’s Foreigners Tribunals.
“The Tribunals under the Foreigners Act seem to be given this task by the government. We object to this decision of the government since the fate of those left out of the NRC will remain in uncertainty for procedural delay and the past examples do not give any confidence. We admit that the detention camps where the alleged foreigners are made to languish for years have inhuman conditions causing immense misery to the inmates including deaths,” the Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill said in a statement on Monday.
The body, headed by renowned public intellectual and academic Hiren Gohain, said Assam’s indigenous communities were threatened in more than one ways because of “illegal migrants”.
“It needs to be stated that the indigenous communities are not only losing land and livelihood, but their socio-political space is also under constant pressure of illegal migrants. While defending some people’s right, the original inhabitants’ birthright can’t be jettisoned,” the press statement said.
The Forum also criticised the recently conducted ‘People’s Tribunal’ on ‘Contested Citizenship in Assam: Constitutional Processes and Human Cost’ in Delhi. An interim jury report was published by the People’s Tribunal — the jury included Justice (Rt) Madan Lokur, Justice (Rt) Kurien Joseph and Justice (Rt) AP Shah, among others.
The People’s Tribunal’s interim jury report had said in the introduction, “We all agree that the NRC has spawned a humanitarian crisis. We worry because there are no signs of this crisis abating. Large numbers of minorities in Assam, whether religious, linguistic or ethnic, have lived with the fear of being told that they don’t belong in this country.”
The forum’s press statement said, “Surprisingly, the Tribunal held it’s hearing at Delhi calling interested witnesses selectively instead of at some place in Assam for reasons best known to them. Had they come to Assam and heard the views of native people, they would have become aware of vital issues they have overlooked.”
Over 19 lakh people have been excluded in the final National Register of Citizens published last month, and these people will get a chance to appeal against their exclusions at the state’s Foreigners Tribunals.