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2-hour Barak bandh against NRC 'flaws' evokes total response

Silchar, May 2: The dawn to dusk Barak Valley bandh called by All Cachar Karimganj Hailakandi Students’ Association evoked spontaneous mass support in all the three districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi. The bandh was called in protest against the “flaws” in the ongoing process of NRC update.
Since early morning, hundreds of picketers hit the streets and paralyze the administrative headquarters in all the three districts.
Central and State government offices, banks and commercial establishments, business houses, shops and markets remained closed. Schools and colleges wore deserted looks. Courts did not function. All sorts of vehicular traffic were off the highways and roads. Short and long distance bus services did not operate. However, flights at Kumbhirgram Airport were normal, but the passengers were stranded due to lack of movement of vehicles.
Altogether 36 picketers arrested in Karimganj while the police detained 27 squatters from different parts of Hailakandi district. No arrest has been made in Cachar.
Police sources said that the band was peaceful and no untoward incident reported in any areas.
Member of Parliament and Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev supporting the cause of the strike said that the ongoing NRC update process would make many bonafide citizens of the state ’illegal infiltrators’. She said that the NRC should be updated keeping 2014 electoral roll as base.
The ACKHSA adviser Rupam Nandi Purkayastha said that as per the instructions of the Supreme Court of India, the NRC updating process has begun in the state and it should be completed by January 2016. “But, neither the Supreme Court nor the Registrar General of Citizen has issued any guideline for NRC update. It is the state government which has framed the guidelines in a ‘whimsical and arbitrary’ manner.” As per the guidelines, 1951 NRC and the electoral rolls of 1971 have been made the basis for the NRC update. Besides, 16 documents have been listed, one of which has to be produced by a person to qualify as an Indian citizen.
Nandi Purkayastha raised the issue as to why an existing citizen of the State should again apply for his name to be enlisted as an Indian citizen; as such rules are prescribed for the noncitizens to apply for Indian citizenship.
“Assam is a multilingual and multicultural state and as per the Article 29 (I) of the Constitution, a community has the right to protect and conserve its own language, script and culture. But, non-Assamese people like Bengali, tribal communities and tea garden labours who are old inhabitants of Assam are being discriminated by the Assamese people with impunity. The ongoing nasty politics by the linguistic majority in Assam is also a part of the process of NRC update and must be stopped immediately. Such discrimination is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution,” he added.
Nandi Purkayastha pointed out that Assam has a unique ‘D’ voter issue which is not found in any other states of the country. Lakhs of people from West Pakistan and East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, have migrated during partition and also fearing religious persecution, to India and have settled in many parts of the country including Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Rajasthan, Panjab, Gujarat, Delhi and other parts of the nation. All the state governments have allotted them equal rights like citizens of India, unlike Assam where they are discriminated on a regular basis and are harassed by the dubious ‘D’ voter list by the administration.”
He requested that the ‘D’ voter issue should be resolved before the finalisation of the NRC update.
The Association’s main demand is to make electoral roll of 2014 and photo identity cards provided by the Election Commission of India as the base year for NRC update since it is based upon the electoral list of 1951 and the ‘D’ voters are thus automatically excluded from the list. Other demands are: “The ‘D’ voter issue should be solved and for maintaining impartiality in the process of renewal of the NRC update, the Centre’s deputed neutral observers should be appointed.” (Source: SentinelAssam)

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