Villagers in limbo over inclusion

Dhiren Das alias Biren Chandra Das, an underprivileged farmer from Durung village in Kamrup (metro), is now in limbo as far as his NRC status is concerned.

By Gaurav Das
  • Published 30.07.18
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Dhiren Das from Durung village in Kamrup (metro) district. Picture by Gaurav Das

Durung (Kamrup): Dhiren Das alias Biren Chandra Das, an underprivileged farmer from Durung village in Kamrup (metro), is now in limbo as far as his NRC status is concerned.

Das was once declared a D (doubtful) voter but a foreigners tribunal in 2012 declared him to be an Indian citizen.

However, his name has been put on hold and is yet to be included in the NRC.

In the Bengali-Hindu dominated revenue village of Durung with 700 households, the villagers have assimilated with the Assamese, having settled here since decades.

But there is an apprehension regarding the outcome of the second draft of the NRC, a day before its publication.

"The court declared that I am not a foreigner based on the evidence that my parents were registered voters for the year 1966 in respect of No. 58 East Gauhati LAC. I have the permanent residence certificate which was issued by the deputy commissioner. But my name is yet to be listed in the NRC," said Das.

Durung, a Scheduled Caste model village, has around 1,486 voters, of whom 222 are D-voters. Most of the inhabitants' names have been included in the first draft of the NRC, which was published on the midnight of December 31, 2017, but there is still a fear that some names may be excluded from the second draft.

The village was set up in 1948 when a group of Bengali Hindu settlers with origins from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) began clearing wild vegetation to establish Durung.

A few decades' later, new settlers, especially refugees from East Pakistan, came to settle here after escaping religious prosecution.

"When the first draft came out, most of our names were included. Almost 30 to 40 per cent names were left out. But now we fear that in the second draft more names may be left out, including those who were included in the first draft. Out of the 222 D-voter names, most have won cases and declared not foreigners. But their names have been put on hold just because of their past D-Vvoter status," said Narayan Sarkar, former headmaster of Durung High School, and now the vice-president of the Khetri Thana Ilaka Nagarik Committee.

"My father was declared a D-voter in 1997. But his name was in the voter list of 1966. When we approached the officials we were told there is no office for verification of refugees," said Babul Das whose father Avinash was declared a D-voter.

For women from this village who were declared D-voters, the struggle to sustain their nationality becomes tou-gher. "This is troublesome for me. When I got to know I was declared a D-voter, I had no idea what it was. I am poor and I really don't know what to do," said Sumitra Das, 57.

The villagers of Durung boast of being more Assamese than Bengali. There are only Assamese-medium schools here. It also has a traditional Assamese namghar.

"We are more Assamese than Bengali. Some of us even don't speak Bengali anymore. It will be sad if the NRC overlooks us," said Nikhil Das, a septuagenarian settled here since 1948.