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Delhi-based Rights group says over 1 lakh STs excluded from Assam NRC, The Hindu

The Hindu
GUWAHATI, September 02, 2019

According to the Rights and Risks Analysis Group, the exclusion is connected to the rejection of land ownership under the Forest Rights Act.

A New Delhi-based rights group on Monday claimed that more than 1,00,000 Scheduled Tribes who are original inhabitants of Assam have been excluded from the State’s controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC) released on August 31.

The final NRC contained the names of 3,11,21,004 people of the total of 3,30,27,661 applicants. This number of excluded people thus worked out to 19,06,657.

According to the Rights and Risks Analysis Group, the exclusion is connected to the rejection of land ownership under the Forest Rights Act.

“A preliminary survey states that about 25,000 Bodo, 9,000 Reang, 8,000 Hajong and thousands of persons belonging to other tribes have been excluded from the NRC. As per the affidavit filed before the Supreme Court in February 2019 with respect to the petitions filed for eviction of those whose claims of land ownership had been rejected under the Forest Rights Act, the Assam government had stated that it rejected the claims of 22,398 STs under the FRA because of their inability to prove residency in the forest land prior to December 13, 2005,” the group’s director Suhas Chakma said.

“About 25% of about 36,000 Reangs in Hailakandi district were excluded from the NRC. An overwhelming majority of the Reang women have been excluded because of their inability to prove the legacy from 1971. The Reangs are shifting cultivators and have an extremely low literacy rate and are identified as one of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups,” Mr Chakma said.

“With the exception of educational degrees and land documents, women do not have independent identity documents and always identified as daughter or wife of the male member. Once they are married, the legacy is lost as they are deleted from the family ration cards and for this reason alone, an overwhelming majority of the Reang women have been excluded,” he added.

“It is a travesty that none of the STs of Assam has been listed as original inhabitants of the State but the Supreme Court in its order dated July 21, 2016 clarified that the expression ‘original inhabitants of the State of Assam’ would include the Tea Tribes,” Mr Chakma said.

‘Tea Tribes’ is a loose term used for tea plantation workers who prefer to be called Adivasis. There are more than 90 communities among the Adivasis.

The group urged the Assam Government as well as the Centre to issue a notification to include all the Scheduled Tribes in the NRC as the original inhabitants of the State.

On Saturday, the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangha had said more than 1 lakh members of their community had been excluded from the NRC.

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