Sabibur Rahman was very happy last year as the names of all the members of his family appeared in the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC)
However, his happiness did not last long as someone had raised an objection to the inclusion of the name of his youngest son Rajdul Islam into the draft NRC, forcing him to appear for the hearing at Chenga revenue circle in the district.
What has shocked Rahman is the fact that the objector, who has raised the objection against his youngest son, was not present at the hearing. “How can this happen? How can people who I don’t know and I believe that they also don’t know my family, raise objection against inclusion of my son’s name in the draft NRC?
“I am hurt because my citizenship is doubted here. We have submitted all documents to the NRC authorities and hence the names of every member of my family got included in the draft NRC.
“Now how can someone doubt about the citizenship of my son? I have requested the officials here to furnish me the details of the person who raised the objection but they refused to give me his details. This is not fair, how anyone can doubt somebody’s citizenship credentials?” Rahman told Northeast Now.
Rahman’s is not the only case. Assam’s Barpeta district alone has received over 70,000 objections filed against people, mostly Muslims—most of whose name already appeared in the draft NRC released last year.
“This is harassment. I am a poor man from Haldia village and work as daily wage earner. Somebody raised objections against inclusion of my son Dilowar Hussain’s name in the draft NRC. I have come here with my son and some other people from my village as witness but the objector is not present here.
“I have lost my wage for a day and spend money in bringing this people to the hearing for witness. We have been genuine Indian citizens and inclusion of our names in the draft NRC proves that. How can some people just doubt our credentials?” said Hasan Ali.
The NRC authorities in Assam have started hearing for the objection cases from May 6 this year. While those persons against whom objection have been raised have appeared before the officials for hearing, in none of the cases objectors have appeared so far, raising question about the whole process of objection.
However, it is not that only Muslims are targeted by raising objections. Some of the cast Hindu people of Assam have also received notice from the NRC authorities due to objections filed against inclusion of their names in the NRC.
“I have received a letter from the NRC authorities saying that someone have filed an objection against me and my family. When I wanted the details of the objector, the authorities declined saying that the Supreme Court has prevented them from divulging the details of objectors. But how is this possible?
“Does it mean that anyone has the authority to question my identity and I would have to be a mute spectator? I cannot even get the name and address of the objector to know what led him to doubt my citizenship credentials?” said Hara Kumar Goswami, a native of Rampur village in Barpeta district.
“Were this objection filed out of genuine concern or just to harass people of a particular religious community? We also do not support infiltration and strongly believe the NRC should not include the names of infiltrators. But people of a particular religious community are being harassed over the objections—in none of the cases objectors have appeared. Do we need more proof that these are fake objections?”said Ashraful Hussain, an activist based in Barpeta.
On Sunday, Assam Congress raised the issue of alleged harassment to the people in the name of objections and sent a memorandum to the NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela. Assam’s Leader of the Opposition, met the state coordinator and asked him to take corrective steps so that harassment could be stopped.
“We welcome the genuine objections which have been filed against any ineligible person by following due process of law. However, it has come to our knowledge that large numbers of objections have been filed in cyclostyled manner, in total violation of law. Such objections have been evidently filed only with a view to harass genuine Indian citizens and derail the entire process,” Hussain said adding that the objectors are neither attending the hearings, nor disclosing their identities.