Swapnaneel Bhattacharjee | Aug 7, 2018 | 4 min read


Freedom fighter’s children, grandkids find names missing from NRC

Swapnaneel Bhattacharjee

Silchar: As a young boy, Sanjit Debnath would often visit his father’s garment store in Masimpur, 12km from Silchar town in southern Assam's Cachar district. “I still remember the respect my father commanded from people in the area, many of whom only visited our shop to hear him narrate once again about the time he had spent in jail during his student life in 1940s, fighting for the freedom of India,” says Sanjit, a 65-year-old retired government employee from Silchar. 

“My father, Bhuban Mohan Debnath, passed away in 2003. He would have never thought that one day, it will be his children fighting for their identity in a country he loved and would have gladly died for,” Sanjit told Firstpost just days after his entire family found their names missing from the second and final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). 

The 19 members of the family include five of Sanjit’s brothers - Ajit, Bijit, Sujit, Asit, Biswajit - their respective children, and sister Swapna. All of them reside in Silchar, except Asit who stays in Delhi. 

While two of the brothers, including Sanjit, have retired from government service, two of the remaining brothers and the sister are government employees, at present. Sujit, meanwhile, runs a homeopathic medicine shop. 

The family members are aged between five and 68, with Ajit being the oldest and Sanjit's grand-daughter Supritha being the youngest member.

The names of the spouses of the family members were, however, present in the second draft of the NRC. 

Sanjit says, “None of our names were in the first list as well. But most people did not make it to the list so we were not anxious. We are clueless why our names are missing from the final draft despite submitting documents, such as land deeds and a copy of the voters’ list with my father’s name on it, dating back to 1960s,” he says.

He says that the family had got all documents verified at an NRC Seva Kendra in Cachar district’s Palonghat on April 5, 2018. 

“The officials there had told us that everything was in place. They did not red flag anything,” says Sanjit, who completed his higher secondary from Cachar College in 1972, and was employed with the Inspector of Schools in Cachar district until his retirement in 2015.

Sanjit says that the road ahead would be tough with long-drawn legal procedures. 

“We will visit the NRC Sewa Kendra and submit application forms for claims. It might take a long time to resolve things,” he says. 

More than 40 lakh residents of Assam found their names missing from the final draft of the NRC, with nearly 4 lakh of these names belonging to residents of Barak Valley.

"People whose names are missing form the final draft of NRC are going to suffer, particularly the poor. They did already suffer a lot during the verification process as a large number of people had to go to distant places to report at NRC Sewa Kendras," says Sanjit. 

"Many of us from my family have served the government in various capacities, while some are still in service. We are not able to digest the fact that despite working for (the government) for so many years, how could we be put under the 'not included' category," he adds. 

“Sometimes I wonder what will happen to us if we are not considered genuine citizens of the country? Will our pensions be stopped, or will my siblings in government jobs be suspended?” asks Sanjit.

For now, there are no answers.

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