Thousands of people living in villages in the Assam side on the Assam-West Bengal border in Alipurduar and Cooch Behar districts are now staring at possible ouster following publication of the final draft of the National Registration of Citizens (NRC) on Monday.
The names of most of the people living in villages like Srirampur, Shimultabu and Damrapara in Kokrajhar district in Assam on the border with Bengal were not listed in the NRC draft, it is learnt.
All members of an eightmember family, including a widow aged 59, Runubala Sarkar, of Srirampur Village in Kokrajhar district failed to find their names in the NCR draft.
“I was six when I came here with my parents from East Pakistan. We had spent two years in a refugee camp and later the government of India allowed us to reside here in Srirampur in the year 1964. The government had allotted us a refugee certificate and provided us six bighas of land. They also granted us funds to purchase cattle for cultivation in the land but now we all have become outsiders,” rued Mrs Sarkar.
“My husband died in 2003. I have three unmarried daughters and two married sons who have their children. Where will we go if we are tagged as outsiders?” Mrs Sarkar said, showing the refugee certificate and land documents the deputy commissioner of Shillong of the then united Assam had issued to her.
Similar is the story of Subadh Das, a resident of Damrapara village under Gosaigaon police station in Assam. “We had been residents of Srihatta village in Sylhet district in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. We came here in the year 1964 for the Indian border was then open for Hindus. The government of India gave us land to reside on and granted us money to start our own business here. It is a disappointing state for us that we are now termed as outsiders,” said a grocery shop owner, Subodha Das.
“The world is not for us. It is better we die here,” he lamented. The administration in Assam, in the meantime, has started asking people not to panic about the draft NRC and that each and every individual will be given a chance to be heard through a proper process, sources of the Kokrajhar district administration said.
“Everyone who is an Indian will be marked in the NRC list. Nobody needs to worry. The hearing will start from 7 August and will last till 31 September,” said the Deputy Commissioner, Kokrajhar district, Niranjan Barua.