DIBRUGARH: Thousands of people, including those from the tribal communities in Upper Assam, did not apply for inclusion of their names in the final
(NRC) on the ground that they don’t need to prove their citizenship as they are the ‘sons and daughters of the soil’ residing in the area for generations.
According to an unofficial estimate, the number of such people may be close to 8,000 in the three Upper Assam districts of Dibrugarh, Tinsukia and Sivasagar alone. Significantly, these three districts are known for their high concentration of tribal and indigenous people.
Ananta Sonowal (44), a resident of Dibrugarh, is one such individual who refrained from applying for the NRC. Sonowal, who belongs to the indigenous Sonowal Kachari tribe, lives with his family of four in the West Milannagar area of the town. Asked why he skipped the NRC process, he said, “My two sons and I did not apply. However, my wife got her name included in the NRC from her mother’s side. I felt it was a completely fruitless exercise. We are bhumiputras (sons of the soil). Our surnames are a proof of our identity. The names of indigenous people should have been automatically included in the NRC.”
Pronob Das, a resident of Hatimura village in Dibrugarh, also did not apply for the NRC along with his family members. “I had brought the NRC enrollment form but found it too complicated. In fact, several families in our area did not apply. We are residing here for three generations. We were born and raised here. I don’t think there should be any problem even if our names are not there in the NRC,” said Das, who heads a family of four.
Pollav Chakravortty, a businessman from the Kumarnichiga area of Dibrugarh, said, “As I was busy with some important work, I and my family could not apply for the NRC enrolment process. We are bonafide citizens born and raised here. Let’s see what is in store for us.”
According to an NRC official, the number of people who didn’t apply for inclusion of their names will run into several thousand across the state. The factors in play range from lethargy to sheer indifference and lack of urgency, which, he said, was surprising considering the fact that the entire exercise was to separate the genuine citizens from the illegal ones. He added that it is not surprising that a large number of genuine citizens have been left out of the final NRC.
“Now, many organisations are complaining that genuine citizens have been left out of the NRC. But if you don’t bother to apply in the first place, how can you expect to find your name in the list?” the official asked.