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New in the Northeast | NRC snafus persist; bulldozers arrive in Assam

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New in the Northeast | NRC snafus persist; bulldozers arrive in Assam

It was a four-year, ₹1.600-crore project that was supposed to put an end to Assam’s four-decade-old illegal immigration problem once and for all. However, nearly three years after the final list of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) was made public, the state’s controversies continue to make headlines.

Following Supreme Court orders, the process of updating the NRC, which was first prepared for Assam in 1951, began in 2015. The apex court-monitored exercise, in which 33 million Assamese residents were asked to prove their citizenship, was intended to weed out illegal immigrants, particularly those from Bangladesh.

When the list was finally published in August 2019, it left out 1.9 million applicants whose ancestors were unknown or who couldn’t provide enough valid documents to prove that they or their ancestors lived in Assam on or before March 24, 1971, the cut-off date set by the Assam Accord of 1985.

The state’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led government slammed the list as soon as it was released, claiming that it included many suspects while leaving out genuine citizens. Many other parties and organisations found flaws in it as well. Several petitions, including one filed by the Assam government, are currently pending in the Supreme Court, seeking a partial or complete review of the list.

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Meanwhile, the list has yet to be published by the Registrar General of India (RGI). Those who have been left out of the NRC have been unable to file new appeals for citizenship due to the delay. In the meantime, Assam Public Works (APW), a local NGO whose Supreme Court petition in 2009 kicked off the process of updating Assam’s NRC, has filed more than a dozen police cases against former NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela, alleging irregularities in the process.

Last week, Hajela made headlines once more when his successor, Hitesh Dev Sharma, filed a police report accusing him of treason and endangering national security by allowing irregularities in the list’s preparation, resulting in illegal migrants registering their names as Indians. The case was filed in the criminal investigation department (CID) under Indian Penal Code sections 120B, 166A, 167, 181, 218, 420, and 466.

“Prateek Hajela may have ordered the use of software that prevented quality check and facilitated the entry of names of ineligible persons into NRC, which can be seen as an anti-national act affecting national security,” Sharma wrote in his complaint.

Following Supreme Court orders, Hajela, an IAS officer who oversaw the entire NRC update process, was transferred to his home state of Madhya Pradesh just weeks after the list was published in 2019. In November 2019, he left Assam, and the state government named Hitesh Dev Sarma, another IAS officer, as the new NRC state coordinator.

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With Sharma requesting a police investigation into Hajela, the debate over Assam’s NRC is unlikely to die down anytime soon, and the issues it was supposed to address remain unresolved.

A large posse of security personnel arrived early Sunday morning in Salonabari near Batadrava in Assam’s Nagaon district, and bulldozers quickly demolished five homes of local residents. The police response to a Saturday attack on the Batadrava police station by some Salonabari residents has raised some eyebrows.

According to the police, a mob of nearly 40 people set fire to an old police station building on Saturday, destroying a few motorcycles, records, and arms and ammunition. The attack was in retaliation for the death of Safiqul Islam, a 39-year-old fish trader who had been apprehended by police a day before and died under suspicious circumstances on Saturday.

Islam’s family claims he was wrongfully detained by police and tortured after the family refused to pay ten thousand dollars and a duck for his release, resulting in his death. On the other hand, the police claim that Islam was brought to the station after a complaint that he was drunk and lying on a public road.

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He was released the next day and handed over to his wife, according to the police. “His wife even gave him some food and water.” He later complained of illness and was taken to two different hospitals. Unfortunately, he was pronounced dead,” Assam Police DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said in a statement.

Following Islam’s death, some of his family members and other Salonabari residents travelled nearly 6 kilometres to Batadrava police station, where they attacked the officers and set fire to the old building. A woman was seen pouring flammable liquid on two motorcycles and lighting a matchstick to start the fire in videos from the attack.

After failing to prevent the attack, Nagaon district police arrested five people and detained 15 more for their involvement. However, the police demolished five homes, including Islam’s and two of his close relatives, alleging that they were illegal settlers who had encroached on government land using forged documents.

The information about illegal encroachments was discovered during the investigation into Saturday’s attack, according to Special DGP (law and order) GP Singh. “Some houses in that area were demolished on Sunday because people are staying illegally in that area and engaging in illegal activities,” he said on Sunday morning.

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Later in the day, DGP Mahanta said that police discovered suspicious activity at some homes in the area where most of the people involved in Saturday’s incident hailed. “In order to investigate and clean up the area, we’ve demolished some homes and will dig in the area if necessary.” We have reason to believe the attack was the result of a conspiracy, and our investigation will focus on that.

A special investigation team (SIT) has been formed by the state government to investigate the attack on the police station, and a separate investigation is underway to determine the cause of Islam’s death. However, the state’s opposition has slammed the move to demolish people’s homes.

“It appears there is no distinction between those who set fire to the police station and the police.” Will the police respond in the same way and demolish the accused’s homes?” Sibamoni Bora, a Congress MLA from Batadrava, said. Akhil Gogoi, MLA of Sibasagar and President of Raijor Dal, said, “An attack on a police station is unacceptable, and all parties involved should face consequences. But under what law did the police proceed to demolish some people’s homes?”

Bulldozers have razed ‘illegal’ houses and establishments in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh in recent weeks, allegedly targeting one community. While bulldozers and excavators have been used to uproot illegal encroachers in Assam in the last year as part of a concerted effort by the state’s BJP-led government, Sunday’s incident was the first time such demolitions were carried out immediately after a police attack and without prior notice.

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According to reports, Jimmy Kimmel is quitting the Late Night programme.

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According to reports, Jimmy Kimmel is quitting the Late Night programme.

According to reports, Jimmy Kimmel is thinking about leaving his late-night show to devote more time to his son Billy’s continuous struggle with congenital heart problems.

This week, a number of people with knowledge of the situation disclosed that Kimmel intends to leave Jimmy Kimmel Live! after his contract expires in 2025 in order to spend more time with his wife Molly McNearney, who co-head writes the show.

Kimmel’s choice, according to Radar Online, is a result of Billy’s health issues, especially in the wake of Billy’s most recent third open-heart surgery. But now he’s a “healthy kid.”

The Late Night presenter shared the news on Instagram in late May, saying, “We went into this experience with a lot of optimism and nearly as much fear and came out with a new valve inside a happy, healthy kid.”

Sources close to Radar Online claim that the Kimmels are getting ready to step back from the spotlight. According to an informant, Jimmy and his spouse prioritise their family over notoriety. They know what to do financially, so they’re prepared to step back from the spotlight and concentrate on what matters most.

“Life is too short to waste time on a job that brings you no happiness.”

Kimmel’s spokesperson denied the findings.
Even though Kimmel’s publicist denied any talks regarding his possible resignation and called the claim “silly,” especially in light of his son’s recent surgery.

“Though they’ll likely stay busy producing and developing shows behind the scenes, their main focus will be spending precious time with their family,” an insider was quoted by Perez Hilton.

Billy’s congenital heart issue was initially made public by Kimmel in 2017, not long after Billy was born, along with the difficulties his family was facing. Billy was born with a heart condition, according to an echocardiography, a type of cardiac sonography that was performed, Kimmel disclosed on his show.

“Tetralogy of Fallot associated with pulmonary atresia.” In essence, there is a hole in the wall separating his left and right sides of the heart, and the pulmonary valve was totally obstructed.

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Three days after his birth, Billy had his first successful open-heart surgery. A few months later, he had another one. Billy had his third operation last month at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. This was his most recent procedure.

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