Hopes on scraps of pa­per in­side As­sam’s twi­light zone

Mint Asia ST - - News -

which we will at­tract un­wanted in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion,” said Nani Gopal Ma­hanta, head of the depart­ment of po­lit­i­cal science at Gauhati Univer­sity. Ma­hanta also added that this sit­u­a­tion would ul­ti­mately “have mas­sive phys­i­cal and po­lit­i­cal ram­i­fi­ca­tions.”

“If in some pock­ets, the ra­tio of ex­cluded to in­cluded is high, it could well reach a boil­ing point. At the same time, it will also im­pact the up­com­ing Pan­chayat elec­tions if the ra­tio of ex­cluded Mus­lims to Hin­dus is high. Then this could lead to vast po­lar­i­sa­tion, which could ad­versely im­pact the state, in fu­ture,” he added.

Of t he f our mil­lion who have been ex­cluded from the draft NRC, 2,48,000 cases have been put on hold, in­clud­ing the D-vot­ers (doubt­ful vot­ers), their de­scen­dants and peo­ple whose cases are pend­ing be­fore the for­eign­ers’ tri­bunal.

How­ever, se­nior po­lice of­fi­cials also added that like Hos­sain, who is fight­ing for his sis­ter’s re­lease, sev­eral other de­tainees are also look­ing at their next of kin for a chance at sur­vival. “A ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple in the de­ten­tion cen­tres are Mus­lims and are cat­e­gorised DFN (de­clared for­eign na­tional). But their rel­a­tives are still try­ing to re-ap­ply to the NRC on their be­half, so that they make it,” said a se­nior As­sam state po­lice of­fi­cial, seek­ing anonymity.

WORLD IS WATCH­ING

The Union home min­istry is vo­cif­er­ous in its claims that no one will be deemed a “for­eigner” yet. How­ever, speak­ing to Mint, Union home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh stated that “after the fi­nal list is out, if peo­ple are left out, they can ap­proach the for­eign­ers tri­bunal.” But for the likes of Hos­sain, mov­ing a for­eign­ers’ tri­bunal is an ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity. “We have no money left to get a lawyer who will fight our case. My sis­ter is in a de­ten­tion cen­tre (Kokra­jhar) and we have no way of even com­mu­ni­cat­ing with her,” Hos­sein added.

The United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UN­HCR) has laid down guide­lines, set in stone, for de­ten­tion cen­tres. How­ever, bar­ring the six de­ten­tion cen­tres spread across As­sam, there are no pro­vi­sions to house those who will even­tu­ally be ren­dered “state­less.

“De­ten­tion must not be ar­bi­trary, and any de­ci­sion to de­tain must be based on an as­sess­ment of the in­di­vid­ual’s par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances; con­di­tions of de­ten­tion must be hu­mane and dig­ni­fied,” the UN­HCR states, among a host of other guide­lines that gov­ern state­less­ness, asy­lum and de­ten­tion.

How­ever, even as Nani Gopal Ma­hanta, quoted above, stated that this en­tire ex­er­cise had the po­ten­tial to sow seeds of vi­o­lence in the state. Geno­cide Watch—an in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion that seeks to pre-empt and pre­vent geno­cide and mass mur­der—has al­ready is­sued an “early warn­ing of po­ten­tial geno- cide,” dub­bing it as stage 7 alert. The or­gan­i­sa­tion says that, “when Ben­gali Mus­lims in As­sam are im­pris­oned in “for­eigner” de­ten­tion cen­tres, the sit­u­a­tion will move to Stage Eight: Per­se­cu­tion, the stage im­me­di­ately pre­ced­ing full geno­cide.”

Mean­while, Shahin Ahmed re­mains hope­ful. Ahmed, who drives a cab in Silchar town in the south­ern dis­trict of Cachar, had man­aged to dig out the pass­port of his grand­fa­ther, is­sued in the 1950s.

He also man­aged to pro­duce doc­u­ments show­ing own­er­ship of an­ces­tral prop­er­ties. On the strength of these doc­u­ments, eight in his ex­tended fam­ily, in­clud­ing his par­ents, have been recog­nised as In­dian cit­i­zens, but three have been ex­cluded from the fi­nal draft. These are his younger brothers aged 13-18 years, all born in Silchar.

He had sub­mit­ted birth cer­tifi­cates is­sued by the lo­cal civic author­i­ties in sup­port of his brothers’ ap­pli­ca­tions, but it ap­pears that the doc­u­ments have not been held as au­then­tic, he says.

Hope has been re­duced to scraps of pa­per in As­sam’s twi­light zone.

Aniek Paul con­trib­uted to this story.

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