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The final National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be published in a few hours from now, and the fate of over 40 lakh people will be sealed.
After attending as many as six hearings, 70-year-old Prantosh Roy, a businessman in Guwahati, is fuming at the government. “Why do we bear the brunt of India’s partition?” the septuagenarian asks. The final National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be published in a few hours from now, and the fate of over 40 lakh people will be sealed. Roy is one among many who await results after going through a ‘harrowing’ citizenship test.
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“We became Indian citizens after independence. Why this harassment for Indians, original Indians – it is not about 50 lakh people, if a Gujarati or a Punjabi is considered Indian, why raise question on citizenship of Bengalis?” asks Roy.
Roy’s grandfather was born in Krishnanagar Nadia district of West Bengal and relocated to Brahmanbaria in Tripura district of erstwhile East Pakistan about a century ago. While his elder brother moved to Assam in 1951, Roy came to Guwahati in 1960. He proudly displays a picture of him with Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal when he was felicitated among others for serving a 19-month jail term during the Indian Emergency.
While in school, he was part of Azad Hind Volunteers and took part in a protest rally from Manipur to Delhi. A release certificate from Gorakhpur jail where he was lodged for 11 days as a political prisoner is another of his prized possessions. Roy remains hopeful that the authorities will consider it as his proof of citizenship, and get him listed in the final NRC tomorrow.
“I believe in Bharat Maa and Maa Kamakhya – there cannot be injustice, and I am confident of being in the final NRC,” says Roy.
Roy also served as the district vice-president of All Assam Students Union in 1970. AASU Advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya says the students’ organisation will stand with anyone who is a genuine Indian citizen and had moved to Assam after March 24, 1971.
“The updating process of NRC is based on Assam Accord, it is a list of Indian citizens. After a long time, a long pending demand of people would be fulfilled, but the government is trying to shelter Bangladeshis by extending the timeline of filing appeal from 60 to 120 days. We will stand with genuine Indian citizens,” says Bhattacharya.
Like Roy, Manik Ali from Bhalukabari under Goroimari circle of Kamrup district has attended four hearings since May 15, 2019. Ali says he has left his fate to God, and is apprehensive that so many hearings might go against him and his family after they made it to the Complete Draft NRC.
“Not just my name, but all my family members are in complete draft NRC. But I had to appear for four re-verification hearings for my siblings and their families. First, it was for my two younger brothers and their children, then my nieces were called for a re-verification,” says Ali, adding that the process is to establish linkage, and confirming that he had submitted all documents required to prove his citizenship.
Meanwhile, a ‘keep calm’ plea has been issued to people by the state government and Assam police, and stringent security arrangements have been made to maintain law and order.