No Place Called Home

Grappling with floods in the times of NRC

09 October 2019

In July 2019, floods hit Assam’s Chunbari village. “Our land is being eroded, cows and calves are dying, but there is no relief,” Azid Mandal, a 56-year-old man, who has resided in the village for 40 years, said. Mandal and eight of his family members were excluded from the first two drafts of the National Register of Citizens, a list of Assam’s Indian citizens. The floods swept away their home as well as some documents which proved their Indian citizenship. According to official estimates, the floods destroyed 4,908 houses in Assam.

“I do not even have land to build a new house. When I had land, I made a living. Now, it is no longer possible,” Mandal said. In end July, Zishaan A Latif, a photographer, travelled through five districts in Assam, documenting the devastation left behind by the floods that swept parts of the state earlier that month, and the plight of the people struggling for inclusion in the NRC.

The final draft of the NRC, a list of Indian citizens in Assam, was published on 31 August. The NRC was first published in 1951, and the process of its updation began in 2013, following an order by the Supreme Court of India, which has since monitored the project closely. A total of 19,06,657 individuals have been excluded from the final list, and they will now have to prove their Indian citizenship before the state’s Foreigners Tribunals within the next 120 days. At present, there is no clarity on what action may be taken against the persons deemed to be foreigners. But over nineteen lakh persons face the prospect of statelessness.

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    Zishaan A Latif has been an independent photographer since 2005. His work has been featured in both commercial and non-commercial collections, exhibitions and publications worldwide.

    Keywords: NRC National Register of Citizens Assam Flood Foreigners Tribunal citizenship