NRC list: Trouble mounts for Bihari migrants in Assam as thousands await verification
With draft publication of the national register of citizens (NRC) in Assam, the fate of 73,000 people from Bihar staying in Assam hangs in balance as the Bihar government is still struggling to complete the verification of their identity based on documents submitted to the citizens’ panel.
Though petitions filed by persons of Bihar origin residing in Assam started pouring in for cross verification towards the end of 2016, with bulk of applications coming in the year 2017, the process of checking legacy details as mandated by the NRC has been slow in the state.
So far, Bihar government has sent the details of only 13,000 people after verification while legacy and family tree details of another 10,000 people will be sent by the end of this week.
What is worse is that the state also returned applications of approximately 11,877 persons of Bihar origin, saying they were not legible. The remaining 40,000 applications are still awaiting verification.
“We returned the applications as they were not legible at all. What could one do with a piece of paper having no details? How do we verify people’s family details if there are no addresses or other supporting documents to establish their claims of roots in Bihar?” said a senior officer, involved in the verification process.
Now, such applicants staying in Assam have to apply afresh with supporting documents to prove their legacy. The delay in sending verified details of applicants having their origin in Bihar could also debar them from enrolment in the final NRC list, scheduled to be published in December, say officials.
Revenue and land reforms is the nodal department entrusted with the task of verifying details of applications. Sources said around 341 applications sent here for cross verification were forwarded to different states as they were not related to Bihar.
Majority of these applicants are migrants working in tea plantations, eateries and construction sector.
“Most of them are working in tea plantations in Assam and descendants of those who migrated to the state in pre-and post independence era to eke out livelihood. A good number of them are daily wage labourers and also engaged in construction business,” said another senior officer in the revenue department.
A majority of the applications are meant for north Bihar districts - a belt known for heavy migration since pre-independence days which continues even today.
Saran tops the chart with 7,938 applications from migrants of this district followed by Muzaffarpur (7,408), Siwan (3,768), Vaishali (3,779), East Champaran (2,973), Gopalganj (2,076), Samastipur (1,350) and Darbhanga (1,562). Districts in south-west Bihar have lowest number of applications with only 14 people applying from Aurangabad, followed by Arwal (18) , Jehanabad (14) and Jamui (19). From chief minister Nitish Kumar’s home district Nalanda, only 61 applications have come for cross verification.
Officials of revenue and land reforms department said district magistrates, especially from areas having high number of applications, have been instructed to cross verify the details of each person and send back at earliest so that they could be forwarded to the NRC by August 30.
However, there are apprehensions that the revenue department, battling shortage of field staff, would not be able to verify the details of 40,000 pending applications by August 30.
The non-inclusion of names of residents having their roots in others states in the NRC, Assam list has already generated a lot of political heat, with West Bengal government flaying the Centre for not including a large number of residents with roots in Bengal in the citizen list.
“We hope to complete the verification process by August 30 . In some cases, it might stretch to the first week of September. But, each application is being scrutinised and sent to the NCR so that persons having Bihar origin and living in Assam for decades could be enrolled in the citizens’ list,” said Brijesh Mehrotra, principal secretary, revenue and land reforms.