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Assam: 2,900 Poor People Travel 500 Kms from Boko to Upper Assam Within 1 Day’s Notice in a Bid to Prove Citizenship

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Boko, August 4, 2019:

In the late hours of the evening on Saturday, 3 August, 2019, as many as 2,900 poor people dwelling in villages under the Boko Assembly Constituency in Kamrup district of Assam, received National Register of Citizens (NRC) hearing notices.

What is even more shocking is that all these people from these villages — Baruapathar,  and the third no. 2 Jugipara — were summoned to faraway Seva Kendras in the Upper Assam districts of Golaghat and Sibsagar, approximately 500 kms away. What is even more shocking is the fact that they have have to appear on Monday, less than 48-hours of being issued the notices!

On being summoned on such short notice, the villagers have had no option but to part with their valuables. Some of these impoverished folk have had to mortgage their ancestral lands, while others have had to sell their livestock to be able to attend the hearing. Some of the womenfolk have also had to part with their jewelry — their only worldly possessions. And after parties with their valuable, the people boarded 25 buses to attend the hearings.

A local, when being asked whether he had contacted the NRC authorities after receiving the notice, said that the NRC official had said that a single village could go to the Seva Kendra bearing the documents, but the panic-stricken villagers had all decided to go.

Sopia Khatun, another villager laments that “We have no option, but to go. Carrying our infants, spending money on travel, it is of great inconvenience, but we have no choice.”

Bulbuli Bewa, 60, says that she arranged for the trip by selling jewelry and with the money she had saved from her profession as a wage laborer. “However, it is still not enough”, she wept.

It is now known that the Assam Government is not satisfied with the NRC exercise, with some BJP legislators even accusing Co-Ordinator Prateek Hajela of knowingly allowing Bangladeshis’ names to be included in the draft. Both the Centre and State have unequivocally raised a demand for a re-verification, but their request was turned down by the apex Court. Even opposition leaders like the old Congress warhorse Tarun Gogoi have mocked the entire exercise, dismissing it as “wastepaper” and a “gimmick”.

Inside Northeast’s CaInmpaign #LetsSaveDeeporBeel is now supported by Oil India Limited (OIL). Join us as we continue the awareness campaign to preserve the only Ramsar site in Assam which is facing immense threats (A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention). We need your help to preserve this site of great ecological importance. Join the #LetsSaveDeeporBeel campaign and tweet about it, and do tag us on Twitter. Let’s make some noise!

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