Amidst continued protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act across the state, six deaths in just 10 days allegedly of ‘NRC phobia’ has finally caused the district administration to sti up and take stock of the situation across Burdwan (East). Most of the deceased were senior citizens from the minority community and died due to cardiac arrest, while one young housewife committed suicide by hanging as her EPIC was faulty.

The elderly men, according to their family members and police, were suffering from severe anxiety especially in the wake of adoption of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in both the Houses of Parliament, as their names and other particulars in the EPICs and the Aadhaar Cards were not matching perfectly.

The District Magistrate, Burdwan (East), Mr Vijay Bharti, said: “It has to be investigated why people are getting so anxious when the state government has already given assurance that it would help any person facing difficulties in rectifying their records.” He added: “It is however very difficult to ascertain whether the deaths actually occurred due to panic over the NRC. But our officials would visit the homes of the victims.”

On 21 December in the wee hours two friends, Sattar Sheikh and Abdul Kashem Sheikh, both aged 55 years and residents of Natungram village in Karui Panchayat area within Katwa-2 block died within minutes of each other due to massive cardiac arrests. Their family members claimed that both were panicked and confused how to establish their citizenship as both had anomalies in their EPICs and Aadhar Cards.

Monirul Sheikh, Sattar’s son and Hasibur Shekh, Kashem’s son, said that their fathers were feeling severely perturbed as their documents that would have to be furnished as proof of nationality were faulty. Hasib said: “My father and Sattar uncle were seen discussing the issue together and visiting the panchayat office and the BDO’s office from time to time together to resolve the issue but these didn’t yield effective outcome.”

Monirul added: “Many in our village have become panicstricken, which is likely to inflame anti CAA tension here. My father was a victim of unbearable tension too.” On the same day, Giyasuddin Mian (74) of Shibdaha village near Guskara Municipal town died allegedly out of panic as his name was wrongly spelled in his EPIC.

Early Wednesday morning, Nizamuddin Sheikh (69), a resident of Mukshimpara panchayat area in Kalna died due to cardiac failure. He had gone to his native place at Nakashipara Police Station limits in neighbouring Nadia district on Monday to collect the land documents of his ancestral property but according to his family members,he failed to gather a single document, which had upset him.”

On Tuesday morning, Liayaqat Karigar (64) of Nakadaha village within Purbasthali Police Station limits in Kalna died of cardiac arrest. He too, his family claimed, was suffering from anxiety as he was unable to trace documents relating to his ancestral property and was bothering everyone in the family to arrange the papers anyhow.”

A housewife, Sipra Sarkar (31) of Jaugram in Jamalpur Police Station limits in Burdwan (East) committed suicide by hanging herself at her home last week. One of her family members claimed: “She didn’t have either EPIC or Aadhar card and had become panic-stricken since the day the CAB was passed.”

In the same village, a youth Kamal Ghosh (42) had died due to cardiac arrest on 27 September at his home. His uncle, Ashoke Ghosh said: “His EPIC spelled his name incorrectly and he made several attempts to get it rectified but failed.”