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Indigenous groups seek apex court stay on NRC update

Guwahati, April 26: A conference of 30 organisations of the indigenous communities will appeal to the Supreme Court to stop the update of the National Register of Citizens, 1951, in Assam.
The two-day conference that concluded today was organised by the Assam Sanmilito Mahasangha in Jorhat district.
The organisation has been waging a legal battle in the Supreme Court against granting citizenship to people who entered Assam between 1951 and the midnight of March 24, 1971.
"The conference decided to make a special appeal to the Supreme Court in the first week of May to stop the NRC update, as the court is yet to decide the validity of the Section 6 (A) of the Citizenship Act," said Matiur Rahman, the working president of the organisation.
In a verdict on a case of the organisation, the Supreme Court on December 17 last year referred Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, that sets March 25, 1971 as cut-off date to grant citizenship to persons who entered Assam from Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), to a Constitution bench.
Rahman said the court was supposed to constitute the Constitution bench by March but has not done so yet. Rahman said they would appeal in the court to review its last year's judgments on the NRC update issue.
The Assam government has begun the exercise to update the NRC.
It will include the names of those persons (or their descendants) who appear in the NRC 1951 or in any of the electoral rolls up to the midnight of March 24, 1971 or those who submit one of the 12 officially approved documents, such as ration card and court papers, which were issued till midnight of March 24, 1971.
According to the organisation, only those people who lived in Assam till 1951, were residents of the country and hence names of those who entered afterwards should not be entered in the updated NRC.
It argued that while 1951 is the cut-off year for citizenship across the country, it cannot be 1971 for Assam.
The organisation believes that if the NRC is updated with the current criteria, nearly 70 lakh illegal migrants from Bangladesh and Nepal will be able to enter their names in it.
"Updating the NRC with the names of people who entered Assam after 1951 is a dangerous political conspiracy to make the indigenous people of Assam a minority in their own land and depriving them of their political rights forever," Rahman said.
The conference demanded that those people who lived in Assam when the Treaty of Yandabo was signed (1826) and their descendants regarded as bona fide and privileged indigenous people of Assam.
"There is no problem in identifying those people," he said.
It said the definition of indigenous people should be based on the definition offered by the United Nations. The conference said the Assam Accord, that accepted March 25, 1971 as cut-off date, was a conspiracy to destroy the indigenous people of the state. (Source:

Barak groups flay State BJP president for 'Assamese' remark

SILCHAR, April 23: Various organizations have described the call of the state BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharya to all sections of linguistic and religious minority communities to consider themselves as ‘Assamese’ as most provocative. To hit back, All Cachar-Karimganj-Hailakandi Students’ Association (ACKHSA) at a press-meet here today dubbed the statement of Bhattacharya before the journalists on the issue as most ‘unwanted, unwarranted and parochial’ which according to Rupam Nandi Purkayastha, advisor of the organization, ‘smacks of a deep conspiracy’ to brand people of other communities as foreigners if they fail to call themselves Assamese.
The state BJP president singled out during his press-meet ‘Bengalis’ and advised them to accept themselves as ‘Assamese’. But, it got wider connotation and other linguistic groups joined a protest demonstration before the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar organized by Nagarikatwa Suraksha Sangram Committee, condemning the statement. The organizations and associations on boil have also taken exception to his observation just when NRC update is on.
Nagarikatwa Suraksha Sangram Committee, a conglomeration of various organizations represented by the well known personalities of the three districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi, has laid stress on the solution of certain issues before taking up NRC update. Sashank Shekhar Paul, one of the conveners of the Committee, pointed out update of NRC has to be taken up in Assam simultaneously with the rest of the country, the complicated ‘D’ voters issue should be resolved and any admissible document be accepted as evidence.
Besides, Okram Churamani Singha, advisor of the Sangram Committee, forcefully pleaded for accepting circumstantial evidence as per the law with the same importance as any other admissible document for NRC. He at the same time reminded the authorities at the helm of affairs that they could hardly ignore the national commitment, international agreements as well as the assurances of the frontline leaders after Independence for updation. Moreover, the problem of refugees or displaced persons has to be looked into from humanitarian point of view.
Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist), SUCI(C), Cachar district committee, has also hit out at Siddhartha Bhattacharya for the most provoking statement and reminded him that Assam is a multilingual and multireligious state. Every linguistic group has the right to protect its language and culture. Such kind of statement will only add fuel to the disruptive and divisive elements already active. Ajoy Roy, convener of SUCI (C), imputed motive to the statement of Siddhartha Bhattacharya to strengthen the aggressive mindset and weaken the unity and solidarity of the state.
Ajoy Roy further recalled the fragmentation of the greater Assam, leading to the creation of several states due mainly to the ‘extreme Assamese attitude towards other linguistic groups and their culture’. He did not miss to lash out the BJP leaders of Cachar district unit for silently swallowing the observation of their state president. Though the BJP leaders of Barak Valley speak of protecting the interests of linguistic minorities, their silence on the provocative statement of Siddhartha Bhattacharya seems ‘intriguing’. (Source:SentinelAssam)

Free health camp in Lakhipur draws good response

SILCHAR, April 23: A free eye camp and health check up held in Janata LP School of Lakhipur tea estate on last Wednesday came as a great relief to the patients who attended it and got necessary remedy. The camp was conducted by Lions Club of this town in collaboration with Lions Club of greater Lakhipur along with the local Divyan Club. Inaugurating the camp, R K Sanahal, president of Lions Club Lakhipur, said that keeping in view the problems affecting the eyes of common people, such health check up camps are held on periodic basis.
The people of this backward sub-division can hardly afford to meet the expenditures of a nursing homes to get themselves examined and continue the treatment. Continuing R K Sanahal pointed out with the basic infrastructure and facilities lacking in state run hospitals and health centres, people have to suffer silently and allow their ailments or problems of eyes aggravate. Free medical camps therefore come as a boon to these unfortunate and poor patients.
Though there is no specific record or information about the number of people suffering from eye-problems, the large turnout at camps give an index of the problem. This is not only in respect of eye, but also other diseases. Rajdeep Goala, MLA of Lakhipur, who graced the camp, expressed his happiness at the way doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff come all the way from Silchar and extend all help and cooperation to patients examined, besides offering them free medicines and also necessary pieces of advice.
Dr. Biplob Das, Monisa Das, technician, Mitali Dey and Sikha Nath conducted the free eye camp. Of the 120 patients examined, 18 patients were diagnosed with cataract. They were successfully operated upon and advised follow up action for full cure and recovery. All the patients were satisfied with the treatment and the care taken by the medical and paramedical staff. Gonesh Roy, secretary of Divyan Club, also noted his satisfaction at the attendance of patients who came from different parts of the sub-division. He expressed his hope that considering the economic condition and the lack of basic and necessary medical facilities in the sub-division, such camps would be held in the area and his Club was ready to extend every possible help. (Source: SentinelAssam)

NRC seva kendras in Cachar lacking basic infrastructure

SILCHAR, April 10: In the midst of ongoing controversy over NRC update and all the confusions among common people, seva kendras across the district of Cachar have started functioning to furnish relevant legacy data to the citizens. But, several or most of the seva kendras lack basic infrastructure. This has only brought to the fore the indifferent and callous attitude of the authorities concerned.
The situation as prevailing is that which at a click of the mouse is to come out necessary information about 1966 legacy data of an individual and the voter lists of 1971 in most of the cases fail to provide the desired inputs. On the streets and tea stalls of the urban and rural areas, people in general are heard talking about the difficulties in obtaining the information related to them. The question that impinges in their mind is, what next? The spectre of Bangladeshi continues of haunt those who are genuine Indian citizens.
Seva kendras as declared by the state government is to help the helpless people and provide them the information they seek in respect of legacy data and voter lists. In the absence of infrastructure in the kendras, citizens have to suffer. Till now, there is no sign of improving or installing the basic infrastructure. Nor is there any serious attempt to do so. According to project supervisor Jibanjyoti Kakoti, if this be the indifferent attitude of the state machinery towards NRC update, people will have to grove in the darkness. He however was optimistic problems of citizens would be looked into and solved.
On further enquiry, it has been discovered that there is no printer machine to provide copy of legacy data where it is available. It has further been noticed that the posts of supervisors are yet to be filled up. Local registration officers are yet to join their posts in respective areas. People are seen visiting cyber cafes to browse through the legacy data and voter lists. Sadly enough, both these documents of 1966 and 1971 are often found to be incomplete. (Source: SentinelAssam)