Fear is conquering the lives of Bengali community in Assam. The names of about four million people in Assam are not included in the final draft list of citizens published by authorities on Monday. The draft list, called the National Register of Citizens (NRC), was announced on Monday by the Registrar General of India (RGI), which said that out of the 32.9 million population of the border state of India, 28.9 million names were included in the final draft of the NRC
If the fears and allegation about the NRC list are genuine, the Indian government will create one of the biggest refugee crisis in history, it will be a washout of identity, rights, and life of millions who are the victims of many violence and discrimination since the independence of India in 1947.
Rajnath Singh, India’s interior minister, said those whose names are not included on the list should not worry. “Even if someone didn’t find their names in the final NRC, they can go to the foreigners’ tribunals,” Singh said.
The violence and alienation of Bengali community in Assam began with the partition of 1947. Although there are no evident reports of Mass infiltration in the border, the government and other community in Assam accuse them the Bengali community as illegal migrants and label them as Doubtful voters. Since the NRC started to update in 2015, there have been many complaints against its officials and its methods.
The photographs below are the glimpse of the life of Bengali Community in Assam in the stigma of statelessness. It was captured by Shaheen Abdulla in the recent journey to the region to understand the ongoing injustice and inhumane activities in the name of D voters by the government.
Shaheen Abdulla, a freelance photographer and independent filmmaker from Kerala, directed a documentary titled ‘ In a State of Doubt’ on Assam and NRC.
Surviving the flood and routine violence from other tribal groups, the life of Bengali community has been a loop of miseries. The burden of proving the citizenship is a hard game for the majority illiterate community
D voter status has been given to Most of the Bengali Community without any basic proof of their migration, they are randomly picked and labeled D voter, even when others in the family are the Indian citizens
Bemala Khatoon is a declared foreigner who is now in Tezpur Detention camp. Her parents and husband are proved, the Indian citizen. She is one in millions of women who fail to prove the documents. Her husband died due to the heart attack in hearing the news, she is now in indefinite detention along with the youngest son
When declared as a foreigner, people ran away from their families as they become fugitives. The abandon families live in miseries without any whereabouts of their family members
Most of the women are not allowed to appear to the tribunal by the Bengali custom. They ignore the notice and the tribunal declares them as the foreigners without their presence or any investigation. Almost 80% of the cases are declared as Ex parte without giving them any chance of warrant
Despite age and gender, the officers randomly pick people and label them D voters. The burden of proving citizenship is on the accused person who should produce documents dated before 1971. But there is strong allegation that the tribunal intentionally invalids the documents
There have been cases of childbirth in the detention camp. The facilities inside these camps are unhygienic and much harassment is reported by the survivors. fundamental rights are refugee rights are never applied to them
A majority is women are going to lose their citizenship in the final Draft of NRC. The uncertainty about the validation of linkage Certificate to the parents and husband will make millions of women out of the final list
Bengali Muslims from upper Assam is thrown out of their shops and market by Hindu communities claiming that they will soon become stateless and the state is not concerned about it
The legal struggles for proving citizenship will loot the families of Bengali community. Some lawyers cheat these illiterate people, who ask for a huge amount and doesn’t even appear in the tribunal. Even if the defense tries to challenge, FT mostly never consider their argument
There is about 100 foreigners tribunal in Assam, 19 of them was disposed of as the government was disappointed by their records. The state government is desperate to declare as much possible Bengalis as foreigners, this pressure the judgment of FT
The question of life and identity of the generations are at stigma by the incomplete and inhumane approach from the state will create one of the biggest refugee crisis in the world