Showing posts with label gorkhas in Assam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gorkhas in Assam. Show all posts

Understanding NRC: A Politically Neutral Perspective

8:27 AM
Writes: Phinjo Wangyal Gurung

"Writing is not just a form of divertissement but a healing process that soothes a perturbed and stressful mind, rejuvenates your spirit, and brings you back to life."
National Register of Citizens of India
National Register of Citizens of India - Wikipedia

An atmosphere of dubiety seems to have taken over the hills ever since the announcement that once BJP forms government at the center it will Implement National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India. People are muddled about how NRC will affect the Indian Gorkhas in real time. Contrary to the popular belief, NRC will have a definite impact on the Indian Gorkhas unless certain conditions and safeguards are met. Here in this small write up I will try and dissect NRC from a political neutral viewpoint bringing out only those facts that are related to NRC along with its implications on the Indian Gorkhas once implemented.

What is NRC?
The National Register of Citizens is a register containing the names of all the genuine Indian citizens, it was first prepared in 1951 for Assam. NRC draws its power from the Citizenship Act of 1955 and the Rules framed therein. The main objective of preparing the register is to identify illegal immigrants as foreigners and deport them back to their countries.

Issues Related with NRC
(1) The Question of Immunity
After the publication of the first draft of NRC in Assam last year about 40 lakh people were identified as illegal migrants and were excluded from NRC for various reasons, including some 1,50,000 Gorkhas, despite the fact that BJP had promised that Gorkhas living in Assam would not be excluded. Amit Shah recently made a similar promise from Kalimpong that the Gorkhas living in Darjeeling Hills will not be excluded from NRC. With BJPs protracted and strained history of breaking the Gorkhas trust and faith, only time will tell if he is really going to walk the talk this time.

Once excluded from NRC, the person ceases to be a citizen of India. He will no longer be entitled to the rights guaranteed to an Indian Citizen under the constitution and law including the right to vote. The implementation of NRC should not be taken daintily, it is an issue of profound importance with far-reaching consequence as the fate and citizenship rights of lakh of India Gorkhas is at stake here. Immunity, therefore, becomes a matter of paramount concern for all the Indian Gorkhas.

The question now arises as to why about 1,50,000 Indian Gorkhas were excluded from the register in Assam (similar exclusion can happen in Darjeeling) despite the fact that NDA government had assured them that Gorkhas living in Assam will not be touched by NRC. The answer to this question lies in the Citizenship Act of 1955.

It should be noted that NRC draws its power and authority from the Citizenship Act of 1955, therefore, any question of Immunity can only be granted through an act of Parliament by amending the Citizenship Act . Verbal assurances given at the time of the election in the election manifesto, which itself has no legal support is inutile.

The NDA Government had brought a Bill i.e. Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 which had granted immunity from being declared an illegal immigrant to persons belonging to Hindus, Buddhist, Jains, and Sikhs coming from Bangladesh and Pakistan, however, the said Bill did not mention Indian Gorkhas.  To add insult to injury the Bill did not see the light of the day and died its natural death in the Rajya Sabha. For an Ordinary Bill to be passed into a law it has to be passed by both the houses of the parliament with a simple majority. BJP led NDA still does not have the required numbers in the Rajya Sabha. Although it commands an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha it is still a minority in the Rajya Sabha. Rajya Sabha is BJPs Achilles Heel. This is the reason why the names of thousands of Indian Gorkhas living in Assam were struck of the National  Register on some flimsy grounds. Despite lofty promises being made the promises were not backed by law. As the commitment lacked legal support it could not be implemented therefore the fate and citizenship rights of thousands of Indian Gorkhas living in Assam still hangs in limbo.

A similar situation is brewing up in Darjeeling, only verbal assurances have been given by the party president. The Bill as it stands today, still does not specifically mention ” Indian Gorkhas”. Even if somehow the party manages to include Indian Gorkhas in the Citizenship Amendment Bill, there is no guarantee that the Bill will pass as BJP is a minority in Rajya Sabha and does not command enough support to pass an Ordinary  Bill in one go. Therefore implementing NRC in Darjeeling without specific legal immunity to the INDIAN GORKHAS is suicidal.

(2) Documentation and related matters
It has been found that the names of many persons in Assam were dropped from the draft NRC only because of minor differences in the spellings of Bengali names into English in different documents.  Several instances were encountered where a single letter variation, for example, “Omar” and “Onar”, was enough to rule that a person was a foreigner. I now ask how many of us in Darjeeling are not facing similar problems? How many of us have all their and the names of their family members correctly spelled in all their documents? To be honest I don’t. If that be the case my name along with the names of my family members will be struck off the NRC if implemented.

Likewise the rural unlettered are typically vague about their date of birth. A person could be excluded from the register if he/she told the NRC tribunal 40 when the documents recorded to be 42.

Rural uneducated women are especially in danger of exclusion from the citizenship register.  Most of them have no birth certificates, are not sent to schools and are married before they become adults, therefore, by the time their names first appear in the voters list these are in a different village where they live after marriage, which is different from those of their parents. They are told by the NRC tribunal that they have no documents to prove that they are indeed the children of the people they claim are their parents. There were cases in ASSAM of being excluded from the citizenship register on this ground alone.

(3) Opaque Process
NRC empowers the Assam police to identify anyone it suspects as foreigners and illegal migrants. How many of us can repose 100% faith and vouch that the police force works with impeccable integrity? If the police are granted such wide powers don’t you think that such power can be abused? Anyone can be picked up by the police on flimsy ground and be declared a foreigner anytime.

The police have also been empowered to refer the cases to a Foreigners Tribunal(FT). It has been alleged that the Tribunals are not presided by judges but by lawyers and in some cases by persons with no legal knowledge, who were appointed by the party.

Moreover, it has also been alleged that the police and the presiding officers in FTs( foreigners tribunal ) work just to fulfill the targets that are set by the party and not to dispense justice.

Not to mention the enormous amount of money one needs to spend fighting these legal cases in the Tribunals proving ones citizenship once declared a foreigner or an illegal migrant under NRC.

(4) The Question of Double Jeopardy
Article 20(2) of the constitution guarantees to every citizen the right not to be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once as a fundamental Right. But this principle has been waived off for Foreigners Tribunals(FT). It has been found that even after an FT had confirmed a citizen of India another FT and at times the same FT can again send notice to the same person to prove his citizenship once again. This is a direct violation of Article 20(2) as guaranteed by the constitution of India.

With the entire burden of proving citizenship on one’s shoulders and the arbitrary and opaque multiple forums to which one will be summoned, people deprived of education and resource will be caught in a maze of bureaucratic red tape from which they will find it hard to emerge. There are indeed few parallels in the world where the state itself produces statelessness on the scale and manner that it is doing in Assam and soon in the Hill areas of Darjeeling. Political parties advocating NRC in Darjeeling should exercise caution and do so only after an in-depth analysis of ground realities, after taking into confidence all the stakeholder without which the future and Citizenship Rights of thousands of Indian Gorkhas living in the area could be jeopardized once and for all.

Via The DC

Assam Gorkha Sammelan demands ST status to Gorkhas of Assam meet HM and TAM

8:35 PM
Writes Nanda Kirati Dewan 

A delegation of Assam Gorkha Sammelan (AGS) led by its President and Tezpur MP Shri  R.P. Sarma met union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at Parliament house today and submitted a memorandum demanding ST status to 11 Gorkha Communities of Assam and inclusion of a member from Gorkha community in the high power committee formed by the Home Ministry of India for implementation of clause 6 (six) of Assam Accord .
Assam Gorkha Sammelan demands ST status to Gorkhas of Assam meet HM and TAM.

Yesterday, the same delegation met union tribal affair minister Jual Oram at his residence and submitted a memorandum demanding ST status to the eleven Gorkha communities of Assam. They also reminded Mr. Oram about the promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had quoted that “Gorkhas’ dream is my dream”. “He has already started the process of granting ST status to the thirteen Gorkha Communities of India,” they said.

Both the ministers assured the delegation that the Govt. Of India is very serious about granting ST status to the thirteen Gorkha communities of India. The delegation comprised of working president Krishna Bhujel and central office bearers Bikash Subedy, Dahal Sanjiv and Kharga Rawat.

Release of Mosti Maya Limbu from Jorhat Detension Camp

7:30 AM
Writes Nanda Kirati Dewan

Release of Mosti Maya Limbu (38) mother two 13 year old daughter and 7 year old son from Jorhat Detension Camp was a silent battle we have been fighting for last 11 months. My AAGSU colleague Vice President Prem Newar and BhaGoP Member from Golaghat Shri. Bhakta Limbu also president of VDP, Padumpathar efforts in this case that yeilded result. I salute their Gorkhalism spirit.

President of Assam Pradesh Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh Advocate of Gauhati High Court services were sought at Jorhat and we could Free 23 Gorkha D' Voters from charges of being Foreigner in August last year after Mosti Maya Limbu was declared foreigner by the Foreigner Tribunal, Jorhat. This was a victory we couldnot celebrate as our own Cheli was languishing in Detention Camp for being a Gorkha's daughter born in India in 1981 to a parents who had voted in 1970 from Sarupathar constituency.

This particular case was handed over Upadhyay after another very senior advocate (name withheld) and his associate who was introduced to the victim's family through a relative failed to deliver justice. After pursuing the case for several months before the Honourable High Court, we finally could free Mosti Maya Limbu a day before 70th Republic Day.

I thank Nityananda Upadhyaya Sir for his community services and his legal knowledge and flow of informations that made it happen. A round of appluass to our colleagues in BhaGoP who are ready to file addendum petition in Hon'ble Supreme Court for its permanent solution so that no Gorkhas are marked D Voter and tried at Foreigners Tribunals. We await to see a petition to be filed by Assam Govt in Hon'ble High Court in this respect as we take our next step.

The Jorhat FT has more than 150 cases registered against Gorkhas and the numbers are increasing while whole of Assam it is estimated to be more than 2000. There are examples where higher courts have overturned FT's judgenents and declared victims as INDIANs.

The Gorkhas reposes its faith on World's largest democracy and its Judiciary to deliver Justice to the sons of the soil. We humbly appeal Election Commission of India to look into it constitutionally.

Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh Official shall legally fight cases of D' Voters and those Pending at Foreigners Tribunal (PFT)s as and when brought to our notice.

Nanda Kirati Dewan
National Secretary (Youth Affairs), BhaGoP

Do not Panic over NRC list says Assam Finance Minister

9:09 PM
Assam Finance Minister Himant Biswas Sarma Requests People Not to Panic - "Even names of indigenous Assamese are not there in the list, names of Gorkhas are not in the list, but this is not final"

In an interview to India Today, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has appealed people not to panic over the draft NRC.

Do not Panic over NRC list says  Assam Finance Minister
Himanta Biswa Sarma

When asked about TMC leader Mamata Banerjee's accusation that "this is just a pretence to remove Muslim names from the list", he said, "No ones names have been removed, we are merely following Supreme Court Orders, even the names of indigenous Assamese are not there in the list, names of Gorkhas are not in the list, names of Hindi speaking people are not in the list, names of Marwaris are not on the list, names of Assames Hindus and Muslims are not on the list, it doesn't mean they are foreigner or they are outsiders... Supreme Court is going to develop a Special Operating Procedure and people will be given an opportunity to claim their stake... they will be heard three times, only then a final list will be prepared."

आज तक (@aajtak) Tweeted: NRC के ड्राफ्ट पर सियासी घमासान के बीच TMC नेताओं के एक दल को सिलचर एयरपोर्ट पर हिरासत में ले लिया गया है. देखिए, क्या कहना है इस पर BJP नेता और असम के स्वास्थ्य मंत्री @himantabiswa का. #ReporterDiary @manogyaloiwal अन्य वीडियो :

Bimal Gurung's Press Release on NRC list Assam

12:58 PM
Press release from President Shri Bimal Gurung:

“I extend my solidarity and support to all those genuine citizens of India whose name have been left out of the NRC list, and request the central government to take handle their cases with utmost care, and also request the Govt of Assam and the Central Govt to consider all genuine cases of those who have been living in Assam prior to 25th of March, 1971. 

We are also struggling for our identity here, and are very worried at the situation developing due to NRC in Assam. We fear that this could lead to the marginalization of the indigenous Gorkha-Kamtapuri and Adivasis of North Bengal, and we want to ensure that no such unfortunate situation in allowed to develop. We won’t allow the indigenous Gorkha, Adivasi, Kamtapuri, Meche and other indigenous communities to suffer injustice. If actions are taken to undermine the locals Bimal Gurung won’t stay silent.
Bimal Gurung
Bimal Gurung 

I have been made aware of the fact that state government is secretly measuring land in our hills, if this is being done to settle illegal Bangladeshis who have been removed from Assam, then it creates a national security threat.

Darjeeling Terai and Dooars help connect mainland India to the north east states, this Chicken Neck region is therefore highly sensitive in entire South Asia, and there are possibilities of anti-National, anti-India forces fomenting trouble in this region. In such a situation, if conspiracy is hatched to settle illegal immigrants who have been removed from another state to our lands with which we share a very long border, this will put to grave risk the national security of our country. I will not permit any political entity from the state to jeopardize our national security.

No one should dream of undermining the indigenous population of north Bengal by hoping to settle illegal Bangladeshis who have been kicked out to Assam. If they attempt anything like this, then all the Rajbanshis, Kamtapuris, Adivasis, Meche and Gorkhas from Dooars and all the Gorkhas from the hills will speak with one voice against this.

I once again request, the central government to consider the cases of genuine citizens of India with utmost care, and sympathy.


प्रेस विज्ञप्ति - ४ अगस्त २०१८

आसाममा एनआरसी सूचिको कारणले जन्मिएको विवादमा प्रभावित बनेका त्यहाँका पीडित साँचो नागरिकहरू सन्दर्भमा मेरो समवेदना राख्दै उनीहरूको समस्यालाई गहनतासँग लिनुपर्ने म केन्द्र सरकारलाई अपील गर्दछु|
२५ मार्च १९७१ भन्दा अघि आसाम पसेकाहरूको उजुरीलाई आसामको राज्य सरकार अनि केन्द्र सरकारले पुनः गम्भीर रूपमा हेरोस् भन्ने मेरो अनुरोध छ| हाम्रो छातीमा पीडितहरूप्रति समवेदना छ|

हामी पनि यता आफ्नो परिचयको लडाई लडिरहेको अवस्थामा आसाममा एनआरसी सूचिको कारणले जन्मिएको समस्याको कारणले गोर्खा-कामतापुरी-आदिवासीको बाहुल्यता भएको उत्तर बङ्गालको क्षेत्रमा यहाँका रैथानेहरू अल्पसंख्यक बन्न नपरोस्, त्यस्तो कुनै कार्य नहोस् त्यो सुनिस्चित गर्न चाहन्छौं|
हामी दार्जीलिङ-कालेबुंग पहाड, तराई अनि डुवर्सका रैथाने गोर्खा, कामतापुरी, आदिवासी, मेचे आदिलाई अन्याय हुनदिनेछैनौं| यस्तो अवस्था आएको खण्डमा विमल गुरुङ चुपचाप बस्नेछैन| अहिले पहाड, तराई अनि डुवर्सको विभिन्न स्थानमा राज्य सरकारले गोप्य रूपमा जमीन नापी गरेको सुन्दैछु| यदि आसामबाट निकालिएको अनि बंगलादेशबाट छिरेकोहरूलाई स्थापित गराउने षडयन्त्रमा जमीन नापीएको हो भने त्यसले देशको राष्ट्रिय सुरक्षालाई खतरा उत्पन्न गर्छ|

दार्जीलिंग तराईको भूमिले मात्र भारत देशलाई आफ्नो पूर्वोत्तर राज्यसँग जोडेर राखेको छ| देशलाई पूर्वोत्तरसँग जोड्ने यो चिकन नेक क्षेत्र दक्षिण एसिया कै निम्ति अति नै संवेदनशील क्षेत्र भएकोले यहाँ राष्ट्रको विरुद्धमा अन्तराष्ट्रिय चलखेल हुनसक्ने आशंका जहिले पनि छ| यस्तो संवेदनशील क्षेत्रमा अर्थात् यसको छेउछाउमा यहि देशको एउटा राज्यमा उच्छेद गरिएको बंगलादेशीलाई ल्याएर राख्नु भनेको देशको राष्ट्रिय सुरक्षासँग खेलवाड गर्नु हो|

विमल गुरुङले यसरी राज्यको कुनैपनि राजनैतिक शक्तिलाई राष्ट्रिय सुरक्षासँग खेलवाड गर्न दिंदैन| आसामबाट उच्छेद गरिएको बंगलादेशीलाई ल्याएर उत्तर बंगालको उहिलेदेखि बसेको रैथानेहरूलाई अल्पसंख्यक बनाउने सपना कसैले नदेखेको राम्रो हो| यस्तो भएको खण्डमा डुवर्सका समस्त राजवंशी कामतापुरी, आदिवासी, मेचे, गोर्खा लगायत पहाडका गोर्खाहरूले राष्ट्रहीतमा एकै स्वरमा विरोध जनाउनेछन्|
यसको साथै आसाममा अहिले पीडित बनेकाहरू सन्दर्भमा केन्द्र सरकारले मानवीय अनि सठीक पहल गर्नुपर्नेछ भनि म आग्रह गर्दछु|

विमल गुरुङ
अध्यक्ष, गोजमुमो,
केन्द्रिय कार्यालय, दार्जीलिङ

Gorkhas in India are Indian citizens or legal migrants, says Nepal

8:34 PM

Writes Geeta Mohan

One of the major fallout of the National Register for Citizens (NRC) list in Assam would be on Gorkhas in India. According to reports, an estimated one lakh Gorkhas have been kept out of the draft that was published on July 30 that could be a cause for major consternation between the government and the Gorkha community.
The question that arises out of this is what would the status of the Gorkhas in India be. Nepals Embassy in India believes that this is not a bilateral matter at all and that Gorkhas living in different parts of the country are all Indian citizens.
File Photo
Speaking to India Today, Hari Odari, spokesperson in the Nepalese Embassy in New Delhi said, As far as we are concerned, Gorkhas in Assam, West Bengal, Uttarakhand and other parts of India are Indian citizens or legal migrants. This issue has never been a part of our bilateral relations or conversations.
This list which according to Indian government officials is not the final list has raised concerns among the Gorkha community of Assam. Data collected from the districts imply about 1 lakh of our people are missing from the NRC, the highest being in Baksa district followed by Sonitpur and Golaghat. They should never have been excluded because the March 24, 1971 cut-off does not apply to the Gorkhas, Prem Tamang, president of the All Assam Gorkha Students Union, told India Today
Sources in the Nepalese government in Kathmandu told India Today, This is Indias internal matter, its domestic matter. We dont interfere in that. They will resolve it themselves.
The difference between illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Nepalese coming into India is the Indo-Nepal Treaty of 1950.
Article 7 of the Treaty states, The Governments of India and Nepal agree to grant, on reciprocal basis, to the nationals of one country in the territories o the other the same privileges in the matter of residence, ownership of property, participation in trade and commerce, movement and other privileges of a similar nature.
Professor Mahendra P. Lama, from Jawaharlal Nehru University, says, For the Nepalese migrants under 1950 Treaty, they might not be citizens but they are legal migrants. No Nepalese migrant can be ousted or declared illegal anywhere in India under the Indo-Nepal treaty.
The problem with this clause is that if Nepalese people are allowed equal rights without being citizens then how does one differentiate them from those who acquired Indian citizenship by right of being descendants of soldiers recruited by the Indian Army.
It is a very clear case. Those who are Indian Gorkhas cant be deprived of Indian citizenship because of lack of documents because the processes in the past and municipality structures were not organised. The question of not giving them citizenship does not arise, says Professor Lama.
Interestingly, the Assam agitation of the 70s and 80s was a popular movement launched against outsiders included not only illegal immigrants from Bangladesh but also Gorkhas and other outsiders such as the Santhal tribe in India going in and settling in the state of Assam.
The agitation ended in August of 1985 following the Assam Accord which gave a cut-off date of March 24, 1971. People with documents establishing their stay in Assam up to the midnight of that date are eligible for inclusion in the NRC.
India Today

Exclusion in NRC "not fair" - Gorkha Autonomous Council Demand Committee

7:46 AM
Guwahati: The Gorkha Autonomous Council Demand Committee, which has been demanding "original in habitants" status for the Gorkhas living in Assam, said exclusion of many names of the community from the final draft of the NRC is "not fair".

The committee's chairman, Harka Bahadur Chhetri, on Thursday said: "Many Gorkha people have been excluded from the final draft of the NRC. There are many anomalies. However, the exact number of excluded people is not confirmed yet. So, we will have to carry out a survey across the state."
Gorkha Autonomous Council Demand Committee
Gorkha Autonomous Council Demand Committee file photo

Alleging huge anomalies in the NRC update process, Chhetri said: "Exclusion of many Gorkhas in the NRC final draft even after submission of proper documents has proved that there were large anomalies in the whole process. So we will move the state government after carrying out the survey."

More Chhetri said: "Many Gor-khas, who have been living in this land for decades, have been excluded from the final draft. They are now frustrated. The government said there is nothing to worry about. That means inclusion or exclusion of names in the draft NRC has no value. The anomalies will not be tolerated."

Chhetri alleged partiality in the NRC update process. According to him, in Assam there are around 30 lakh Gorkhas and among them possibly 10 to 20 per cent have been excluded from the final draft.

Earlier, the committee had said Gorkhas in Assam had no links with Nepal and considering them as "immigrants" would be an injustice.

According to the committee, Nepalis and Gorkhas are different communities, but the Assam government deprived Gorkhas from getting the "indigenous" tag

Via Telegraph

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