The Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) has said that over one lakh Scheduled Tribe (ST)s who are the original inhabitants of Assam have been excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) released on August 31.
“A preliminary survey states that about 25,000 Bodos, 9,000 Reangs, 8,000 Hajongs and thousands of persons belonging to other tribes have been excluded from the NRC,” said RRAG director Suhas Chakma.
“As per the affidavit filed by the Assam government before the Supreme Court in February 2019 with respect to the petitions filed for eviction of those whose claims of land ownership had been rejected under the Forest Rights Act, the government of Assam had stated that it rejected the claims of 22,398 STs under the FRA because of the inability to prove residency in the forest land prior to the December 13, 2005,” he said.
“About 25% of about 36,000 Reangs in Hailakandi district were excluded from the NRC. An overwhelming majority of the Reang women have been excluded because of the inability to prove the legacy from 1971.
“The Reangs are shifting cultivators and have an extremely low literacy rate and are identified as one of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs),” said Chakma.
“With the exception of educational degrees and land documents, women do not have independent identity documents and always identified as daughter or wife of the male member.
“Once they are married, the legacy is lost as they are deleted from the family ration cards and for this reason alone, an overwhelming majority of the Reang women have been excluded,” he added.
“It is a travesty that none of the STs of Assam has been listed as original inhabitants of Assam but the Supreme Court vide its order dated July 21, 2016 clarified that the expression “original inhabitants of the state of Assam” would include the Tea Tribes,” said Chakma.
The RRAG urged the Assam government and the central Government to issue a notification to include all the STs in the NRC as the original inhabitants of Assam.