Eid is meant to be a time of goodwill and joy, but there will be no celebration this year in the home of Haji Mohirrudin of Dakachang village, near Boko, in Assam. Mohiruddin, 82, will instead mourn the death of his wife, Rezia Khatun, 62, who died rushing to a NRC re-verification appointment 270 kilometres away in Koliabor. She had been given less than 10 hours to get to the hearing.
Mohiruddin's family, all 12 of them, were relieved after their names were listed in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) issued in July last year. Suddenly last week they received notices to rush to NRC hearings in upper Assam, over 400 kilometres away, to have their documents re-checked.
"She died due to this mad rush. It was hot that day. This Eid has no meaning for us. We don't have peace at heart and mind, so how can we celebrate? We live in fear and anxiety," Mohiruddin told NDTV.
In Assam, where 34 per cent of the state's 3.09 crore people are Muslims, Eid is a major holiday. This year, however, the ravages wrought by flood and last week's panicked rush to submit documents for a mysterious re-verification drive that blatantly violated both Supreme Court and NRC guidelines, have made for a low-key festival.
Guidelines on the NRC website say notices must allow a minimum of 15 days travel time. In April, the Supreme Court directed that hearings be arranged in nearby places.
However, NDTV has accessed a dozen notices issued on August 3 asking people to attend hearings, scheduled between August 5 and August 7, at locations 300 kilometres away.
Asked what their Eid namaz wishes were, most people prayed for inclusion in the final NRC list that will be published on August 31.
"This area was completely marooned. Now, within days of the flood waters drying up, we have to face this NRC re-verification drive. Already (our) livelihoods and homes are gone because of the floods, and now people have to sell belongings to travel for NRC re-checks," Mukhtar Mondal, a social activist, told NDTV.
"Every Muslim of lower Assam today must have prayed that the NRC should get published in time and peace should prevail and the Bangladeshi tag should go once for all," he added.
At least four people from this area have been killed, and over 40 injured, in road accidents caused by villagers desperately trying to reach re-verification hearings between 300 and 400 kilometres away.
Maheruddin Ahmed, 30, was involved in one such accident that left him with a fractured hand. He was lucky - his sisters, Joymon Nessa, 32, and Arzina Begum, 14, were killed and his father is still in hospital.
"Our family has suffered due to NRC. My father will undergo operation in hospital. I am tensed. We don't know if, despite being legal Indians, we will be kept in NRC or not," he told NDTV.
"This Eid is about sorrow and harassment," he said.
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