Kargil martyr's nephew doesn't find his name in NRC, family is upset over comments of politicians terming them 'illegal'

Biswa Kalyan Purkayastha | Aug 18, 2018 | 6 min read

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In Kargil, 1999, Grenadier Chimmoy Bhowmik laid down his life on the battlefield. Every child in the Barak Valley of Assam knows his name. His brothers, Santosh and Sajal, also served the Indian Army. When the National Register of Citizen draft was released, it was therefore a surprise when the name of Pinak Bhowmik, 14-year-old son of former Army officer Sajal Bhowmik, was left out. The irony is that both Santosh and Sajal’s names are included in the NRC.

Bhowmik’s family members aren’t as worried about the exclusion as they are upset about the remarks made by some of the leaders of the ruling party, terming the excluded individuals as ‘Ghuspaithiya’ or illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

Chinmoy Bhowmik’s death in the Kargil war created a huge buzz across the Valley. He was one of the two army personnel from this region who died during the war in 1999. His nephew Pinak, is the lone descendant of the Bhowmik family, who continue to reside in Jarail Tala locality under Borkhala constituency in Cachar district.

His parents, Sajal and Piyali Bhowmik, have been staying in Hyderabad for the last couple of months due to medical reasons, while he stays with other family members.

"His name is missing from the first draft of the NRC and despite providing all important documents during verification, NRC officials excluded his name again," says Santosh, 71.

He insisted that their family is not against the NRC, but are unhappy with the process and how it was executed in Assam. "This was designed by the honourable Supreme Court. As a former army officer I have the highest respect for this country’s apex court. Though it started with good intentions, it has been executed in an improper manner. They asked for my son’s Pan Card, as I don’t think there is a provision for showing tax submission card of a 14-year-old boy. We still tried to follow the NRC’s instructions, but they finally excluded his name,” says Santosh.

“But we are not very worried about it, this is my nation, we served for the nation, my brother gave his life in the war, the nation won’t deny us. But why is my son’s name included in this list of 40 lakh people who have failed to make it to the NRC?. And some prominent netas are claiming that these people are illegal migrants or descendants of illegal migrants. I am shocked and upset at the same time,” he adds.

Santosh Bhowmik was a doctor in the Indian Army, where his job took him to almost every part of the nation. “My brothers, too, served in the Army and the one thing we have earned through our years of service, is self-respect. We never did anything that would pollute our pride and never led other to do the same with us. We have earned respect in the society. But excluding my nephew’s name and calling the left-outs as infiltrators or illegal citizens at the same time makes us angry.”

The other family members, too, condemned the NRC’s system in Assam. "The Honourable Supreme Court gave responsibility of executing NRC to the Assam Government. Prateek Hajela was appointed as coordinator of the process, but he failed miserably in his duties, resulting in harassment for common people”, says Deepali, the eldest among the Bhowmik siblings who is 80-year-old.

The family’s primary argument questions the NRC’s faulty results after spending massive time and effort. “You are making a draft which took more than three years and spent crores of public money. In two attempts you come up with this draft that has excluded 40 lakh names out of less than three crore people? This is your fault, where you start claiming that we have excluded all Bangladeshis. What sort of joke is this? Like my nephew, a large number of children and descendants of genuine Indian citizens have been excluded and the leaders are not even aware of it,” outrages Gayatri, Santosh Bhowmik’s wife.

Arguing against the officials in charge, Deepali adds, “We have seen some leaders in parliament saying NLC or RNC, instead of NRC. They are not able to remember the short form of National Register of Citizens, but claim that they have done a historic job. We strongly condemn these sort of irresponsible statements and as part of an army family, think they are just weakening the democracy of our country".

Most of the people across the Valley’s three districts are aware of Chinmoy Bhowmik. A large number of youth from this part of Assam serve in the armed forces, including the Indian Army. Working for the forces is considered as a matter of pride in this part of the country. And many claim that the sacrifice of Chinmoy Bhowmik is one the reasons behind this. “Excluding names of family members of a martyr is an insult to the nation and its armed forces,” says former MLA of the Borkhola Constituency, Misbahul Islam Laskar. He says that some of the BJP’s leaders are less educated, and often come up with bogus claims and bizarre speeches.

“Here in Cachar, we all know of Chinmoy Bhowmik and his sacrifice. I know them (the Bhowmik family) personally and we are proud of the fact that they reside in our area. We have an MLA from BJP party in our area who is not even aware of the family and he allowed the NRC officials to exclude name of Kargil martyr’s family member,” Laskar continued.

The current MLA from Borkhola, Kishore Nath, anticipates that his name will appear in the final list. “This is a draft and not the final list of the NRC. The final list is likely to come out in the next few months. Not all the left-outs are illegal migrants. There were issues regarding verification which led to the exclusion of many names. Martyr Chinmoy Bhowmik’s nephew can be a victim of some unintentional irregularities. Our NRC team has tried their best to make a pure list and they are almost close to perfection in doing this. Some groups here are trying to create panic among innocent citizen which we don’t support," he said.

He also said that words of BJP's top leaders were twisted by the media. "(Remarks of) Great leaders like Amit Shah and Subramanian Swamy were twisted by some sections of media. Our leaders never said that NRC left-outs are illegal because this is still under Supreme Court's jurisdiction,” the MLA claimed. 

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