Of no fixed abode: Ex-govt employee in a fix as Assam NRC leaves him out, includes wife and daughter

Swapnaneel Bhattacharjee | Aug 21, 2018 | 4 min read


Silchar: Bikash Kanti Nath, 62, a lifelong resident of Silchar, got the “shock of his life” when the mega exercise of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) failed to include him. After serving the government for over three decades, the retired government servant had never thought that the final draft, released on 30 July, would leave him feeling insecure in his own home state.

“I am still not able to come to terms with the fact that my name was not there. I was born and brought up here, completed my education and was an employee under the government of Assam for more than three decades,” he told 101reporters.

Bikash’s late father Birendra Kumar Nath, who died in 1956, had been an employee at the Assam Secretariat in Shillong since 1948, when the city served as Assam’s capital. His younger brother Nripendra Kumar Nath, 91, who lives nearby in the same locality, says that Birendra had also worked as a teacher in 1930s and as an Air Raid Instructor with the Assam Civil Defence department during the days of World War II.

"We faced a tough time after his (Birendra's) demise and decided to move to Silchar, part of undivided Assam back then. Now, the officials concerned have excluded my nephew's name when the NRC is being conducted after so many decades, saying his documentation is 'insufficient'. I would like to know how a document issued by Civil Defence department of Assam in 1944 is insufficient to prove that a family has been living in Assam since much before than the cut off period of 1971," says Nripendra, adding that the family will pursue the legal fight to ensure Bikash is recognised as an Assamese.

Bikash completed his schooling from Adharchand Higher Secondary School in 1972 — one of the oldest educational institutions in Silchar.

He moved on to get a degree in Zoology from Silchar’s Gurucharan College in 1977 and later his master’s degree from Kalyani University in West Bengal in 1979.

In 2016, Bikash retired from his service as the district fishery development officer and settled in Karimganj’s Vivekananda Road area in Silchar. While his wife Suparna Nath works as a teacher at South Point School in Silchar, their daughter Barnali Nath is a PhD student at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Guwahati.

Along with his wife and daughter, 11 other members of Bikash’s extended family were included in the NRC final draft — making him the odd one out.

On December 17, 2017 — a couple of weeks before the first draft NRC was released — NRC Sewa Kendra officials had visited their house for verification, Bikash said. “The officials checked the documents and said everything was okay,” he claimed.

“When I contacted the Sewa Kendra after my name did not appear in the first draft NRC, they told me that the process was underway and my name would definitely appear in the second and final draft NRC,” Bikash says. He rues about the harassment entailed in frequent visits to the sewa kendra after he did not find his name in the first list.

“I have valid documents to prove my citizenship. It is disturbing to imagine the consequences in case my name is missing from the final NRC. My family members are very worried about the matter,” he said.

The documents Bikash submitted to the NRC authorities include a 1944 document related to his father Birendra Kumar Nath issued by the Director of Civil Defence, Assam and the voter-lists of 1966 and 1993. While the former included only his parents, the latter had Bikash’s name on it as well.

“Though the days ahead will be full of worries, I am hopeful that my name will appear in the final list,” says Bik, ashadding that he would opt for a legal recourse in case it doesn’t.

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