Domestic worker's family who migrated from Bihar in 1952 awaits start of claims process in final bid to make it to NRC

Avik Chakraborty | Aug 9, 2018 | 4 min read


Avik Chakraborty | Dibrugarh(Assam)

On July 30, Ganga Paswan — a 45-year-old domestic worker in Assam’s Dibrugarh—broke out in a cold sweat after she found out that her name, along with her family’s, was missing from the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). She lives in Shantipara with her 50-year-old husband husband, Raju, and two daughters. 

Raju Paswan, who works as a daily wage labourer in Dibrugarh, had submitted all the required documents at the NRC Sewa Kendra in 2015 itself, the family claims.

“Despite submitting all documents in 2015, our names were not there even in the first draft. We thought, it will come in the final draft but it did not. We submitted all the documents along with our legacy but to no avail,” says Ganga.

Originally hailing from Samastipur district in Bihar, Ganga moved to Dibrugarh in 1988 after getting married to Raju, whose family had been living in the state for over six decades.

According to the family, Raju’s Hindi-speaking father came to Assam in 1952 looking for work. He too started working as a daily wage labourer in Dibrugarh. The family has settled near Santipara in Dibrugarh since then. “Many Hindi speaking people in my locality are struggling to find their name in the final draft of NRC,’’ says Ganga.  

The exclusion of the family from the final draft of NRC has hit them hard. The family claims it is facing harassment despite having voter ID cards, ration cards and all the other documents required to prove Indian citizenship. “We are facing harassment because we, who are genuine Indian citizens, failed to make it to the final list,” says Ganga adding that the legal processes affect her work as well. “During the 2015 NRC process, I could not go to work for two days and my employers scolded me for that. We are poor people running our family by working every day. It’s difficult for me to skip work.”

“We don’t know what to do next because even after having the required documents our names didn’t make the cut. We have to make fresh applications which is tiring because it means repeating the entire process again. NRC was designed to detect the illegal migrants. Why are genuine citizens like us being put through this?” she asks.

“My elder daughter Laxmi, 16, is in the 10th standard and will be appearing for her boards next year. The younger one, Saraswati, 5, has not even started school yet. Now, I am worried about my daughters,” says Ganga. “What will they do in the near future if their names are not there on the list? I wanted my daughters to study and have good jobs but now I worry about our survival,’’ she adds.

Meanwhile, Ganga’s children are unaware of the impending danger of losing their home. “I heard from my parents that if we could not submit the required documents then we have to leave Assam. My parents are working hard to finance my education and I feel very bad about them. They want me to become a teacher and I want to do my best to fulfill their dreams,’’ says Lakshmi as her mother looks at her absent-mindedly.

Raju Paswan says the family has sought help to resolve the problem. “We went to the NRC Seva Kendra and the concerned official told us that we have to submit the documents again,’’ he says.

Additional Deputy Commissioner, Dibrugarh, Ankur Bharali says the procedure for claims and corrections is same for all and people should not panic, but follow due process. “If their name didn’t appear in the final draft of NRC, they should find out the exact reason at respective NRC Sewa Kendra. Claims forms will be given out from 30 August onwards. If they apply correctly this time, they do not have to worry," he says.  

Ganga informs that on another visit to the NRC Sewa Kendra on Friday she was told to resubmit her documents as they had made mistakes in their application form. "On 30 August, we have to go to the Sewa Kendra to collect the form,’’ she says.

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