No Place Called Home

How NRC exclusion drove a teenager to commit suicide

01 September 2019

“Abba, I heard two people have been picked up by police,” Abdul Kalam recalled his daughter had asked him on the day she committed suicide. “Will they also pick me up?” Abdul Kalam and Halima Khatun are a married couple residing in Kharupetia town in Assam's Darrang district. Their 17-year-old daughter, Noor Nehra Begum, took her own life after she was excluded from the first two drafts of the National Register of Citizens. In end July, Zishaan A Latif, a photographer, travelled through four 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.

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: National Register of Citizens Assam suicide