Nellie (Assam): A month after the release of the final draft the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Assam’s hinterlands are clueless about the procedure and modalities. However, for residents of Nagaon district’s Nellie village, the process holds greater significance than for those in the rest of the state.
Thirty-five years after more than 2,000, primarily immigrants from Bangladesh, were slaughtered over six hours on 18 February 1983 in Nellie and its surrounding villages, a majority of the households in the locality find themselves out of the NRC.
This has sparked fears of violence and marginalization. In a single pocket of Nellie, which comprises 185 houses, each with at least five members, there are at least four members in each household who have not made it to the draft NRC.
“We have witnessed the entire massacre. They came early in the morning wielding knives and swords, and just started hacking people. Is the same going to happen again? No one has come to speak to us or explain the process to us. We have just been told that those who are left out will be asked to leave India," said Ajit Pal, whose father Ramen Pal had migrated to Assam from Mymensingh in Bangladesh in 1960.
Even as four million people, including the so-called “D-voters" (doubtful voters) have been left out of the final draft NRC, Nellie’s inhabitants now live in fear of another spate of ethnic violence.
The villagers claim that no one at the NRC seva kendras, or assistance centres, has spelt out the process of claims and objections to them.
Though the process was scheduled to begin on 30 August, the Supreme Court has now deferred it and ordered a district-wise re-verification of 10% of the NRC data.
While NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela told Mint in July that the entire process was thorough, fair and free of bias, experts said that even the very basics were confounding for villagers who have little or no education, and warned of a potentially violent situation.
“The form itself is very complicated and many people may not have even understood what to fill. That in itself is responsible for the deletion of many names from the draft NRC. In terms of numbers, in some pockets, if the number of the excluded exceeds those included, the state could reach a boiling point," said Nani Gopal Mahanta, head of the department (political science) at Gauhati University.