Muslims in Assam sell valuables to make it to hearings

Thousands of impoverished Muslims are reported to be pledging their valuables to reach the hearing centres, some over 600 km away, in the wake of notices being served to NRC applicants whose names figure in the draft list to attend re-verification hearings in far-flung areas at woefully short notice of one or two days.

Fazal Haq of Chupa village in Lower Assam’s Kamrup is said to have pledged two gold bangles of his family with a jeweller so that he, his wife and children could travel to Sivsagar in Upper Assam.

On the other side, Salma Begum of Sontoli village had to sell off livestock to arrange for money for her 6-member family’s travel to Golaghat. Narrating the plight of the applicants, she said, there was no food or water even for children, no toilets for women at the centre.

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Zaheerul Islam, of Chaygaon, had to sell their harvested crops at throwaway prices to fund their journey.

Meanwhile, two buses crammed with people seeking to establish their Indian citizenship met with an accident leaving two people dead, including a child. Nearly 100 people were injured in the accidents. Reported the New Indian Express.

Tafiz Uddin and Nizamul Haque Choudhury got just 24 hours’ time to assemble their family members for re-verification of their citizenship documents with the officials of NRC Seva Kendras (NSKs), located over 360 km away.

Writing a letter to the Chief Justice of India, several eminent members of Assam’s civil society have urged him to direct the NRC authority to reschedule the re-verification hearings and hold the exercise within the respective districts of applicants so they don’t have to travel hundreds of kilometres at short notice.

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The report added, thousands of families are undergoing untold miseries and practical problems due to the arbitrary notices sent by the NRC authorities. They have been summoned for the re-verification of their documents despite their names figuring in both drafts of NRC. The notices are apparently solely for Muslim-majority villages of Lower Assam.

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