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Most people left out of NRC are suffering from trauma and humiliation, finds survey

The New Indian Express
23 August 2019

Around 37 lakh of over 41 lakh people excluded from NRC have been suffering from extreme mental torture due to the fear of being identified as foreigners, says rights body NCAT.

GUWAHATI: Human rights body National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) has claimed that around 37 lakh or 89% of over 41 lakh people excluded from National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam have been suffering from extreme mental torture due to the fear of being identified as foreigners.

In this regard, the NCTA, which is a conglomerate of various rights organisations, released a report titled “Assam’s NRC: Four Million Tales of Mental Torture, Trauma & Humiliation”.

It had conducted a field survey in Assam’s Baksa, Goalpara and Kamrup districts from July 16-20 to study the state of mental health of those left out of the draft NRC.

“Out of the 91 respondents interviewed, 81 stated that they had been suffering from extreme anxiety, inter alia, due to fear of the prospect of deportation, separation from family members and lack of money to appear before the Foreigners’ Tribunals or appeal before the High Court and the Supreme Court,” the NCTA said in the report.

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Stating that nine people had said about suffering from moderate anxiety and one person from mild anxiety, the NCTA coordinator Suhas Chakma said, “If a total of 41,10,169 persons stand excluded from the draft NRC at present, by extrapolating the survey conducted by the NCAT, it can be said that 36,99,152 persons were suffering from extreme anxiety and 4,11,017 persons were suffering from mild anxiety”.

He said out of the 91 respondents interviewed, all of them stated that they felt insulted and ashamed of being excluded from the draft NRC. Altogether 88 respondents expressed the fear of being separated from family, 81 respondents stated that they fear deportation while 55 respondents stated that they were suffering from trauma and depression, Chakma said.

He also said that 77 respondents stated that they were suffering from sleep disorder as a result of anxiety, 37 respondents complained about loss of appetite, 22 respondents complained about it affecting their thought process while 24 respondents said it affected their work.

Chakma said majority of the respondents were those excluded from the draft NRC. He said the extreme mental torture had forced at least 31 people to commit suicides since July 1, 2015.

“Most of the victims who committed suicides belonged to extremely poor families. Extreme poverty and inability to hire lawyers have added to the woes of the family members who have been excluded from the draft NRC…

“…There are instances where the father was included in the draft NRC but the children excluded; father excluded but children included using the documents of the father; one sibling included but another sibling of the same parents excluded; entire family members included but one member declared as a foreigner by the Foreigners Tribunal and excluded from the draft NRC,” the report said.

It also said that spelling errors of the father or grandfather in the legacy documents caused exclusion from the draft NRC; Foreigners Tribunals declared as citizens but the NRC officials refused to accept the verdict of the Foreigners Tribunal; people declared as a foreigner and kept in illegal detention because of mistaken identity and excluded from the draft NRC; persons born in Assam but parents hailing from other Indian states and therefore, excluded from the NRC because of the lack of legacy documents in Assam.

The final NRC will be published on August 31.

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