With just two days in between the publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) final list, a report has stated that people who had been excluded from the draft list has spent Rs. 7,836 crore on hearings.
The report titled “The Economic Cost of Draft NRC: Poor Made Extremely Poor”, has been released by the New Delhi-based Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) on Tuesday. The report said that in this hearing process, many have been so economically hit that they will not be able to challenge their exclusion before the Foreigners’ Tribunals.
In a news agency IANS report, RRAG Director Suhas Chakma had been quoted saying that during a survey conducted by the organisation, it has come to light that respondents have spent an average of Rs. 19,065 per person for attending the hearing.
“If Rs. 19,065 has been spent by each person excluded from the NRC on an average, it implies that a total of Rs. 78,360,371,985 spent by 41,10,169 persons excluded from the draft NRC at present,” said Chakma.
According to the IANS report, the survey had been carried out in Baksa, Goalpara and Kamrup (Rural) districts of Assam between July 17 to July 20 this year and that the survey covered 62 respondents.
Further, the RRAG Director said that the per capita income of Assam during 2018 was Rs. 67,620 as per the Ministry of Finance. If Rs. 19,065 has been spent for the NRC hearings by each excluded person, it implies that their per capita income had been effectively reduced to Rs. 48,555 or about $700 which is at par with Central African Republic, the civil war ridden country with the lowest per capita income in the world, just above Somalia.
Elaborating on why expenses were so high, the report explained: “Every person excluded from the draft NRC had to spend more money because when a person from the family is excluded from the draft NRC, it is not only the excluded person who has to attend the NRC hearings but all the adult members of the family or blood relatives who are otherwise included in the draft NRC have to accompany the excluded member as witnesses before the NRC authorities”.
“The expenses multiply because the excluded person has to be present himself or herself along with witnesses for multiple times before the NRC Seva Kendra. Further, many excluded persons received notices from the NRC Seva Kendra in another district to establish the legacy data of their parents or grandparents in that place” added Chakma.
“As majority of those who shall be excluded from the final NRC to be published on August 31, 2019 have already been so economically crippled that they shall not able to meet the costs between Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 150,000 to challenge the exclusion before the Foreigners’ Tribunals which are quasi-judicial bodies and require representation by lawyers. If they do not have the capacity to defend before the FTs, the question of challenging before the High Court and the Supreme Court does not arise,” he said.