Rajnath balm for Hindi-speaking applicants

Home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday called Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba to ensure that "no Hindi-speaking or Indian citizen" is left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

By Umanand Jaiswal in Guwahati
  • Published 15.08.18
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The delegation submits the memorandum to Rajnath Singh

Guwahati: Home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday called Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba to ensure that "no Hindi-speaking or Indian citizen" is left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

He made the calls while interacting with a delegation of North East Hindi Bhasi Samanway Samiti which highlighted how many community members were left out of the final draft NRC because of procedural anomalies, among others.

Members of the Samiti, an apex body of Hindi-speaking organisations like All Assam Bhojpuri Parishad, Purvator Hindusthani Sammelan, Purbattor Marwari Sammelan, Marwari Yuva Manch, met Singh at his Delhi residence for over half-an-hour and submitted a memorandum seeking his intervention to ensure the Hindi-speaking population or any genuine Indian living in Assam for generations were not left out during the claims and objections phase.

The final draft of the NRC had seen 40.07 lakh of the 3.29 crore applicants failing to make the list.

The delegation comprised BJP leaders Vijay Kumar Gupta, Ashok Singhal and Hindi-Speaking Development Council deputy chairman Gauravv Somani and council member Dharmendra Chouhan, among others.

Somani told The Telegraph that Singh called Sonowal and asked him to ensure that no genuine Indian is left out of the NRC.

"Rajnath ji also said our chief minister has assured him that no Hindi-speaking or Indian citizen will be left out. He also assured to look into our request to appoint people familiar with Hindi and Urdu so that the claims phase passes off smoothly. NRC personnel vetting papers rejected documents submitted by Hindi-speaking applicants because they could not understand what was written. We have requested Rajnathji that the SOP needs to address these issues. Non-inclusion, despite providing papers, has made many pass sleepless nights," he said.

Later, Somani, who is also an Assam PCC spokesperson, met and submitted a copy of the memorandum to party leaders Gaurav Gogoi, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot.

Chouhan, who later submitted a memorandum to Registrar-General of India Sailesh on behalf of All Assam Bhojpuri Parishad, articulating the problems faced by community members, said Singh also called Gauba, asking him to look into the issues raised by the Samiti, of how the verification for the ongoing NRC update has affected Hindi-speaking people from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, among others.

"We have also requested that a supplementary draft be published before the updated NRC and to consider Hindi-speaking people as original inhabitants like the tea tribes who came from states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh," Chouhan said.

In the memorandum submitted to Sailesh by the Bhojpuri Parishad, Chouhan said they have also highlighted the constitution of the development council in 2016 by the erstwhile Tarun Gogoi government. In a way this is a huge endorsement and acceptance of our people as an integral part of the greater Assamese society. History suggests migration of Hindi-speaking people to Assam began during British Raj. We would request the authorities to look into these factors," Chouhan said.

Gauhati University history professor Rajib Handique, when asked to throw light on the migration of Hindi-speaking people to the state, said, "There has been a constant flow of Hindi-speaking people from the colonial period because of the opportunities Assam provided. There was a lot of scope for traders and the labour class, starting with tea plantations. The ' golas' in every tea estate is a visible sign of the presence of Hindi-speaking people, especially the Marwari community."

Golas were distribution centres for rations and funds for garden workers, among others.