Locals providing food to those coming from far-off places for the NRC re-verification process

Guwahati: Amid the tension and the tragedies that marked the recent re-verification process of the National Register Citizens (NRC) in Assam, the also focused on the great hospitable character of the Assamese society as a whole.

Panic gripped several areas of lower Assam recently after sudden notices on re-verification hearings from the NRC authorities were issued to some people living in those areas. A section of these people had received multiple calls for separate hearings from NRC officials at different locations far away from their native places within a short period of time.

Despite Supreme Court’s refusal in a recent hearing on NRC to entertain the Centre and Assam government’s plea to re-verify 20% of the samples from the four districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% of the rest of the 29 districts in Assam, the state government made a fresh case for re-verification on the floor of the state assembly, releasing confidential district-wise data on exclusions from the draft list.

Locals offered food, among other things, to people coming for their NRC verification process in Sivasagar district of Assam

People from some of the lower Assam areas, especially from Barpeta, Goalpara, Chenga, Boko and Chaygaon were summoned to attend the NRC hearings at far-off upper Assam districts, including Golaghat, Jorhat, Sivasagar, Charaideo, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji on different dates from August 5 to August 7 after sudden notices were issued to them by the officials concerned.

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“I came from Udalguri district to Guwahati’s Chandmari for the NRC hearings. We received the notice for re verification only at 4 pm yesterday, so we had to rush immediately keeping aside other important works,” said Aliya Ahmed from Udalguri.

On the other hand, poor people had to sell off their personal belongings like cattle and ornaments to arrange their travel fares that ranged anything from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000, depending upon the mode of transport they chose to reach their respective hearing centres.

Meanwhile, in the ongoing rush, several accident cases of vehicles carrying people to hearing centres were reported in the recent past. Two women lost their lives and several others were severely injured after a bus packed with people returning from NRC hearings at Golaghat in upper Assam met with an accident at Sonapur on the outskirts of Guwahati recently.

Locals helping people coming for their NRC hearings in Sivasagar district

However, in an effort to help and support those people, many locals and political, social and student organisations of upper Assam provided food, shelter and guided those people to reach their respective hearing centres. This turned out to be a big relief to those people out to prove their nationality.

“We were exhausted and tense after reaching here. But the local people helped us a lot. They offered us food and arranged facilities for other things. This is nothing but the reflection of great Assamese hospitality,” said Sohail Khan, who reached Nazira along with many others from Boko for NRC verification.

Expressing their helplessness over their condition and the recent approach of government over the NRC update process, locals appealed the state government to address their sufferings and come up with an alternate solution at the earliest.

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