This Article is From Sep 08, 2019

"Assam Is Home": Over 1 Lakh From Gorkha Community Not In Citizens' List

According to rough estimates, at least one lakh out of the 2.5 million people from the Gorkha community, who are living in Assam, have been excluded from the citizen's list.

The final Assam list was released last month. (File)

Guwahati, Assam:

On the outskirts of Guwahati, in the Bonda hills, 70-year-old Goma Sharma and her son Ramu, 42, are anxious since the release of citizens' list.

The family belongs to the Gorkha community and they make a living by selling milk.

Ramu's father, Umapati Sharma, had migrated from Nepal before India's independence. His service record shows that he joined the Assam Rifles in 1943, and settled in Assam with his family after his retirement in 1969.

However, in the service records, his father's surname was wrongly mentioned as "Jaisi" instead of "Sharma". This led to the exclusion of six of his family members, including his wife, from the citizens' list.

"My father had served the nation. Yet, today we are getting this punishment. What more can we say?" Ramu told NDTV.

Several other families of former soldiers, who live in the Gorkha settlement in Bonda Hills, have not included in the final citizens' list, which was released on August 31.

Some of them appeared before tribunals to prove they are Indians. Yet they were left out once again.

"I fought a case at the tribunal from 2012 to 2016. I was declared an Indian. Now that I have been excluded again, it seems I have to face the ordeal of appearing before a tribunal once again," says Kharka Bahadur Chettri, who runs a family of four by selling milk.

The Gorkhas from Assam are descendants of Gorkha soldiers, farmers and milkmen who migrated from Nepal starting during the British rule.

According to rough estimates, at least one lakh out of the 2.5 million people from the Gorkha community, who are living in Assam, have been excluded from the citizen's list.

Freedom fighter Chabilal Upadhyaya, the first president of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee, was a second-generation Nepali born in Assam.

But his granddaughter Manju Devi and her family members are not included in the National Register of Citizens.

In an RTI response, the state government said she is not a "doubtful voter".

People from the Gorkha community, who call Assam their home, say the NRC has left them alienated. "Assam is our land. India is our motherland. In the citizens' list, the Gorkha community has been targeted," says Mohan Sharma, a retired army officer from the Nepali community.

Sanjib Chettri, a local, recollects the community's contribution to the state. "Gorkhas took part in the Assam agitations of the 80s against illegal migrants. Four gorkhas are among the 855 martyrs of the agitation," he says.

Last year, in a clarification, the Centre said that Gorkhas holding valid identity cards and members of the community, who are citizens of India and living in Assam, will not be sent to foreigners tribunals to determine their nationality. 

The Home Ministry also asked the Assam government to file a petition before the High Court.

The Assam government, however, filed the petition at the wrong bench of Gauhati High Court, says Nanda Kirati Dewan of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh, a representative body. "Now the community is suffering."

Last month, after the release of the final NRC list, Centre said people whose names don't appear in the final NRC cannot be declared foreigners till all legal options are exhausted. It also said that every individual left out from final Assam citizen list can appeal to Foreigners Tribunals.

The National Register of Citizens or NRC had left out over 19 lakh people.