As the country celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, with all grandeur, a sizeable section of the populace in Barak Valley are consumed by one thought during their waking hours – their names not appearing in the final draft National Register of Citizens (NRC).
On Tuesday evening, instead of paying ode to the Father of the Nation, a torch rally was taken out in Silchar by the Unconditional Citizenship Demand Forum (UCDF) and aptly supported by the Northeast Linguistic and Ethnic Coordination Committee (NELECC).
The rally which began from Rangirkhari in Silchar, ended under the statue of Khudiram Bose, a hub for all protestors of the town, late in the evening. Traffic chaos and jams too couldn’t thwart the protest rally which passed through busy intersections of Silchar.
The demand was to include the five documents earlier listed among the 15, which were put before the citizens of Assam to prove themselves as a bonafide citizen of the State and India as a whole. But, not any longer, as these five documents have been delisted as suggested by the State Coordinator of NRC in Assam Prateek Hajela before the Supreme Court in his standard operating procedure (SOP). The matter though rests upon the apex court to give its final verdict on the issue on October 23 next, but for now, many organisations in Barak Valley are literally up in arms to include these five documents for necessary verification.
Hundreds chanted slogans demanding NRC be scrapped completely. Many intellectuals and leading citizens of the town having leaning towards different political parties took part in the protest rally. The Chief Convenor of UCDF, Kamal Chakraborty, was quite vocal and told Northeast Now, “Not only Prateek Hajela, but, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the Chief Minister (CM) Sarbananda Sonowal are working overtime to ensure that Bengalis cannot live in peace in Barak Valley. They just talk big about what should be done for the people living in the detention camps.”
The general secretary of NELECC, Konkan Narayan Sikdar, informed that they would launch a full-on agitation and will call for Assam bandh at a later date. “We are going to file FIR in all the police stations of the three districts of Barak Valley within a day or two against Prateek Hajela who is forcing us to commit suicide,” fumed Sikdar.
Santanu Sutradhar, secretary of All Assam Bengali Hindu Association (AABHA) and other members who also supported Tuesday’s torch rally, said, “Till this day people of Barak Valley were silent, but not anymore, and the coming days would see more severe protests.”
Earlier in the afternoon on Tuesday, the Citizens Rights Preservation Coordination Committee (CRPCC), a conglomeration of more than 30 organisations of Barak Valley working for human rights issues, held a sit-in-protest under Khudiram Bose statue and pressed for Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to be tabled in Parliament this Winter Session and have it passed.