Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily
GUWAHATI – Social activists, journalists, academicians and social workers among around 200 concerned citizens wrote an open letter to the Supreme Court to draw its attention towards “mischievous and suspicious” notices to the NRC applicants for re-verification being sent in clear violation of the apex court’s order. These notices sent by the NRC authority have created panic among the applicants which at times ended up causing road accidents claiming lives.
“In stark violation of the Supreme Court’s order notices have been served on people en masse in extensive areas of lower Assam districts asking them to attend NRC centres of upper Assam, three to five hundred kilometers away, within a day or two and even on the same day. This has created utter confusion and panic among people,” reads the letter.
The letter was signed by 189 concerned citizens with a plea to the court to intervene in the matter and stop the harassment of the law abiding citizens in the name of re-verification.
According to them, these notices not only go against the court’s order over the re-verification but also violate the court’s guidelines that give 15 days to the applicants to be present at the hearing venues. Earlier, the government had approached the court for the re-verification of the verified citizens but the court refused to order for the same.
However, the authority went on sending the shortest notices of one day to the applicants, living in the far-flung areas, for their presence for the re-verification. Rushing to commute to the venues at short notice some even met with accidents.
“This episode of re-verification has already created a severe humanitarian crisis in the state of Assam. People are using risky and desperate modes of transport to reach the hearing venues on time,” they said.
On August 4, a bus hired by the NRC applicants to present themselves for the re-verification from the distant locations has met with accident at Khanapara, outskirts of Guwahati leaving 24 passengers injured, ten of them critical in the hospitals.
The letter also drew the attention of the apex court to such incidents for which the NRC’s mischievous notices are to be blamed. They demanded the compensation and free medical treatment to the accident victims.
Adding to their woes the notices are being sent physical whereas they were sent online earlier. The letter also drew attention towards this issue.
“Previously all the notices issued by NRC were available online, but currently these are being served personally. Sometimes notices are delivered at the eleventh hour making us all the more vulnerable to any eventuality,” they complained in the letter.
The other big hurdle they face while commuting to the venues is floods. Pointing out that Assam has witnessed one of the worst floods in the recent years, they wrote to in their letter that it caused them huge losses and forced to live in relief centers.
“They are struggling to cope with the losses and many of them are still living in temporary relief camps. Under such circumstances, if these people are asked to attend the NRC hearing giving them just one or two days and summoned to venues five to six hundred kilometers away from their homes, there is little doubt that a large number of them wouldn’t be able to oblige,” the letter averred.
Explaining the background of this letter, a Guwahati-based activist, Bazlul Basit Choudhry, said for the last four and five days, people have been receiving notices for the re-verification even after the Supreme Court refused to order for the same. NRC coordinator Hajela is not giving any clarification about these notices.
Choudhry is of the view that this is being done deliberately to target those Muslims who proved their citizenship. RSS-backed groups are feeling uncomfortable about the fact that Muslims have passed the test of the citizenship. Hence, they are mounting pressure on the government and the NRC authority to conduct re-verification of in Muslim-concentrated areas. That’s why civil rights group came forward to draw the court’s attention towards the gross violation of its order and human rights.