27 August 2019
The fear of being marked as a foreigner and its consequences after the final list of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) is published, has mentally affected the people in the state who are excluded from its final draft.
As many as 89 percent of these people have been suffering from extreme mental torture, The Hindu has reported, citing a survey report by the National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT).
The final list of Assam’s NRC, a document touted to be a proof of Assamese identity, is scheduled to be published on August 31.
Before the publication of the list, the NCAT conducted a field survey on the mental health of the NRC-excluded people in three districts – Baksa, Goalpara and Kamrup – from July 16 to 20.
In the report titled ‘Assam’s NRC: Four Million Tales of Mental Torture, Trauma and Humiliation’, it was revealed that out of 91 respondents, 81 were suffering from extreme anxiety. The reason was given fear of deportation and of separation from family members, as well as lack of money to appear before the Foreigners’ Tribunals or approach the Gauhati High Court and the Supreme Court.
Of the remaining 10, nine were found to be suffering from moderate anxiety and one from mild anxiety. The reasons were the same from them.
The result of their suffering has led to sleep disorders, appetite loss, affect on thought process and work, and causing a feeling of shame and isolation, the study said.
According to NCAT coordinator Suhas Chakma, “If 41,10,169 persons stand excluded from the draft NRC at present, by extrapolating the survey, it can be said 36,99,152 persons are suffering from extreme anxiety and 4,11,017 from mild anxiety.”
The application process for the NRC started in May 2015. Since July 2015, extreme mental torture has forced at least 31 persons to commit suicide, added the NCAT report.
Meanwhile, seeking to allay the concerns of bonafide citizens, the Assam government said on August 27 that it will provide legal aid to the “needy” people whose names do not figure in the final NRC list.
People left out of the NRC will not be detained “under any circumstances” until foreigners tribunals (FTs) declare them as foreigners, Assam Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Kumar Sanjay Krishna said in a statement.
The Supreme Court-monitored NRC exercise, aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in the state that borders Bangladesh, was carried out in Assam, which faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th Century.
(With inputs from PTI)