Tinsukia resident voices fears over NRC status
Thirty-six year-old Sabnam Khatun has been voting in Assam for 17 years. However, this resident of Bessakopee village in Assam’s Tinsukia district fears this could be her last chance to vote, as her name does not figure in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The names of her husband Firdaush Ahmed, 43, and father-in-law Asrar Ahmed, 65, are missing as well.
Mohd Suleman, Firdaush’s grandfather, had served in the army at Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh from 1941 to 1947.
“I have submitted our documents again. But if those are not accepted, I don’t know whether we will be allowed to vote again,” Sabnam, a mother of two, told The Telegraph, scepticism writ large on her face.
She is among the 40.07 lakh applicants whose names did not figure in the draft NRC, which was released on July 30 last year.
A total of 36.2 lakh people, who were not included, have re-applied for inclusion in the final NRC, slated for release on July 31. Nearly 3.87 lakh applicants could not submit their claims.
Following a clarification by the Supreme Court last month, Assam chief electoral officer Mukesh Chandra Sahu said, “People whose names figure in the current electoral rolls will be eligible to vote.”
However, officials admit that things can be different in the 2021 Assembly elections.
The NRC is being updated only in Assam, with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date decided in the Assam Accord of 1985.
Hasnain Khan, the all-Assam coordinator for Citizens for Justice, Peace And Equality, a Dibrugarh-based NGO that is assisting the NRC applicants, said, “There is a sense of fear, anxiety and anger among those whose names are missing in the draft NRC, over the harassment they are facing during the exercise.”
The D-voters were barred till their cases were cleared by the foreigners tribunals.
“The people are suffering financially as they have to travel miles to collect documents, verify them or appear in hearings and the anxiety is so strong that over 40 people have committed suicide after their names were not found in the draft NRC,” Mubarak Khan, a teacher, told The Telegraph.
Assam will go to polls in three phases — on April 11, 18 and 23. The results will be declared on May 23.
Tinsukia district falls under Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituencies, for which election will be held on April 11.