A few weeks after the 2012 Bodoland anti-Muslim riots, I was in Assam for the first time, reporting on its aftermath. That riot, like several others in Assam, was but a manifestation of the xenophobic politics there, since independence, in the name of illegal immigration and “doubtful” citizens. I have since followed developments in Assam, which has only deteriorated as the revision of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) progressed.
Assam has consistently garnered media attention in the past few years in the wake of the Supreme Court-monitored revision of the NRC. There, however, remains a huge gap in the understanding of the ground realities of the manmade catastrophe that is otherwise deemed as a sensitive matter by most Assamese nationalists. No Land’s People: The Untold Story of Assam’s NRC Crisis, written by Guwahati-based journalist Abhishek Saha, hopes to reduce this gap by documenting “the unfolding human crisis in Assam”.
The author’s grandparents had migrated to Assam from erstwhile East Bengal/Pakistan, a few years after Partition, hoping for a more secure life in Hindu majority India. His grandmother was first marked a D-voter (Doubtful voter) in the 1990s and was subsequently left out of the NRC list, though everyone else in the family was included.
Although Saha grew up in Guwahati, as a journalist he worked outside the state till 2018, when he returned as the Assam correspondent of the Indian Express. No Land’s People is as much the culmination of his reporting work of the past few years as his quest to find out how and why his grandmother finds her citizenship being suspected, and might even be declared an illegal foreigner. Unless, of course, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) brought by the BJP-led Union government gives her, and lakhs of...