Thursday, Aug 18, 2022
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In Quest For Citizenship, Assam Braves Rampaging Floodwaters With Hope And A Prayer

In a bid to prove their Indian citizenship, families in Assam, ravaged by floods, are dearly holding onto certain documents to prove their genuineness

Flood Of Emotions Photograph by Surajit Sharma

As floodwaters swirled around him in mid-July, Habibur Rahman and his family of six  scrambled to save their bel­ongings in Assam’s Alikakh char, a sand bar on the Brahmaputra about 70km from state capital Guwahati. Their main worry was a few pieces of documents—brownish, the edges slightly frayed. Rahman wrapped them tightly in plastic to keep the paper dry, in case the water rose further. These pap­ers—land documents in the name of his father and grandfather—will det­ermine his fate and that of his family in a few weeks from now when the much-awaited and upd­ated national register of citizens (NRC) is published.

This Tuesday, the Supreme Court ext­ended the deadline for publication of the final NRC till August 31, but that is unlikely to provide any succour to people like the Rahmans— wife Aklima Khatun and sons Nur Alam, seven, and Faridul, five—who found their names struck off the citizenship document last year. Ironically, the names of their two daughters—Samira Begum, 14, and Shahida Khatun, 11—have been inc­luded. The procedural flaws have bro­ught the NRC update under the scanner but officials maintain that all “genuine Indian citizens” will be included.

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