Debabrata Saikia

Guwahati, May 9, 2019:

Leader of Opposition, Debabrata Saikia submitted a memorandum to the Register General of India & Census Commissioner regarding widespread complaints about a concerted campaign to harass religious and linguistic minorities during the NRC-related claims and objections process. He demanded the dismissal of NRC-related complaints wherein the objector avoids the hearing process.

In an official statement, Debabrata Saikia stated that in June, 2018 he led a delegation to New Delhi in the capacity of leader of the Assam Congress Legislature Party and separately submitted memoranda to the President of India, the Union Home Minister and the Registrar General of India & Census Commissioner highlighting the harassment faced by religious and linguistic minorities due to the NRC process and the need for effective measures to arrest the trend.

Saikia claimed that the BJP government having scant regard for the Constitution of India and the Fundamental Rights of citizens turned a deaf ear to the caution and suggestions alike. As a result, numerous citizens are now facing emotional and financial distress. He has further alleged that a “nefarious force” has conspired to intentionally register bulk complaints with the NRC authorities, questioning the citizenship of genuine citizens belonging to the minority communities.

The opposition leader added that as per reports, this nefarious force collected signatures on blank papers from simple and unsuspecting folk in certain areas and subsequently used them to register false complaints with the NRC authorities. In fact, a complaint has been registered questioning the citizenship of several descendents of Late Osman Ali Sadagar, who was an MLA from the undivided Nagaon district in the pre-Independence era (1937-1946).

The statement further stated, “The noteworthy aspect is that these motivated complainants remain absent during NRC hearings pertaining to claims and objections. Even the NRC authorities are playing a dubious role when it comes to harassment of minority groups. Many people whose citizenship has been called into question have been summoned to far-flung NRC Seva Kendras despite the existence of Seva Kendras near their areas of residence.”

Saikia appealed the government to provide succor to those who are suffering undue harassment. The Supreme Court has directed NRC-related hearing that the authorities should exercise their discretion in accordance with the laws of the land while dealing with NRC-related cases wherein the objector remains absent from the hearing process.

As a per the legal axiom that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’, the opposition leader demanded that NRC-related complaints wherein the objector avoids the hearing process should be decided ex-parte and dismissed so as to prevent protracted harassment of the defendant. Moreover, the NRC authorities should take steps to ensure that those under the scanner are summoned to the nearest Seva Kendra, and not to far-flung places, he says.

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