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National Register of Citizens in Tezpur, Assam
So far, at least in ‘mainland’ India, we have been relatively insulated from the tortures and traumas caused by public authorities demanding proof of whether or not we are Indian. In the far corners of Assam, however, turmoil and anguish reign. Some of our most economically weak people have been ground down to desperation as a peculiarly callous and even motivated bureaucracy rules over their fate.
According to a meticulous list compiled by Citizens for Justice and Peace in Assam, there have been 58 citizenship related deaths as of July 18, 2019. Almost all of them hail from working class agrarian or urban backgrounds. Of these 28 are Hindus, 27 Muslims, one Boro, one Gorkha and one is a member of the Tea Tribes. The numbers of those dead have so far not touched us in the rest of India. However, when 40 lakh plus of Indians were excluded from the provisional National Register of Citizens last July, a sense of the magnitude began to percolate through.
The NRC, a process both complex to understand and unique to Assam, was a consensual process arrived at after the tumultuous years that preceded the Assam Accord, when aggression, strife and violence marred a politics that was driven by real or imagined fears of the outsider. The discourse has been twisted cleverly to now mean ‘foreigner’ and ‘infiltrator’. So it is these peculiar and seemingly parochial preconditions that have to be factored in to understand how and why a wide consensus developed around the process of a ‘free and fair’ NRC. Terms like ‘genuine Indian citizens’ have now emerged to form an integral part of the wider humanitarian discourse within the state.
Legally, the NRC in Assam is today being finalized under the Citizenship Act, 1955, which applies to all Indians (with a special amendment that relates to Assam) and under the special provisions of the Citizenship Amendment Rules, 2003.

The ‘Modalities of NRC’ — under which this process has to be undertaken — are thorough. These Modalities (2003 onwards) were prepared on the basis of a common consensus arrived at with all stakeholders in the state. These included the supporters of the Assam Movement, various religious and linguistic minority organizations, and all the political parties of Assam. It was truly a hard earned consensus.
Thereafter, these Modalities were approved by a cabinet sub-committee of the government of Assam and then sent to the NRC authority. After the approval from the NRC authority, these were sent to the registrar general of India under the department of home, government of India. Understanding these Modalities is to judge whether today’s process is fair. After elaborate discussions, the Modalities approved as many as 15 kinds of documents as legacy documents and another 10 sorts of documents known as ‘linkage documents’, which could and must be used during evaluating the applications of genuine Indian citizens for inclusion of their names in the updated NRC. All these documents were approved by the RGI and subsequently by the Supreme Court of India. It was on the basis of any or all of these documents that the process was to be finalized.
However, perversions and manipulations have dogged the process of late. After 2016, the acceptability of some of the documents which were initially approved in the Modalities (for finalization of the NRC-Assam) were ‘diminished’, owing to the damaging intentions of various authorities. When these were brought to the attention of the court, some of these were rectified. However, at the ground level, in spite of this disapproval by the court that is monitoring this mammoth process, the NRC authority continues with its questionable task of diminishing the acceptability of some of the ‘Legacy’ and ‘Linkage’ documents. The motive appears to be not just to harass the common citizen but to perform to a ‘target’ set by political bosses.
To elaborate, the NRC authority has ‘diminished’ the acceptability of the citizenship certificate, migration certificate, refugee inmate certificate. Besides, all government documents including the voters list issued from Bengal and Tripura have been rejected. All this has happened during the ongoing process of the finalization of the NRC. All birth certificates issued by the Nagaland government authority have been rejected without the minimum steps or any initiative to prove the documents’ authenticity being taken.
Further, within the NRC Modalities, there was a strong provision — well thought out — whereby an arrangement was put in place for a district magistrate investigation team to intervene. This provision ensured and assured any Indian citizen of a forum he or she could approach on the question. If, for instance, a genuine Indian citizen failed to submit proper documents, these could be investigated independently by the DMIT. The team was empowered to meet local people, and after proper investigation, had the power to approve the inclusion of a name of an orphan, destitute or a person having no documents, especially the ‘linkage’ documents. This entire provision has been ignored, dropped from the on-going process.
Finally, there was a last, strong, fall-back provision, also within the Modalities, that laid down the DNA test as an ultimate arbiter for the finalization of a claim for the inclusion of a name while updating the NRC (when all else failed). The provision was also struck down by the office of the RGI unilaterally. The highest court in the land has not been kept fully apprised of these deletions.
There is more. During the course of this finalization process, large numbers of applications have been rejected because of minor discrepancies in the names, titles, age differences in the legacy documents and the user of such legacy documents. This in spite of the fact that ‘Modalities of NRC’ state otherwise: that minor discrepancies of the names, ages, titles will not affect the legitimate demand for inclusion of a name in the updated NRC. However, on the ground, at the 1,200 plus Nagrik Seva Kendras, this specific assurance is being given the go-by, causing injustice and mass exclusions.
There is no section of the population in Assam that has been left unaffected by this overpowering, State-created tragedy. Bengali-speaking Hindus, Muslims, the Gorkhas, Hindi-speaking people of north and west India have all been caught up in this, equally. There is no way to describe what this unfolding trauma has meant, for women and men to attend hearings scheduled in places far away from home, spending significant amounts of money filling in applications. Worse, they are summoned to appear not once, but repeatedly, along with ‘legacy persons’.
This means that, in some cases, many people have even had to attend hearings as many as seven to 14 times along with their entire troupe of family tree members. This means a batch of 40-80 persons from an extended family having to travel up to hundreds of kilometres from their place of residence. Not too far back, a professor from a prominent university of Delhi had to rush three times from Delhi to Lakhimpur in Upper Assam — which is about 3,000 kilometres — along with all his family members .
What is the legal recourse for persons unfairly or otherwise left out of the final NRC? The courts? An executive order of the ministry of home affairs (May 2019), now under challenge in the court, tries to diminish due process and an Indian citizen’s right to citizenship by compelling those excluded from the NRC to approach Foreigners Tribunals. What are these bodies? Created specially in Assam under the pre-Independence Act of 1946, they are non-transparent bodies, about 100 in number. Fair adjudication of citizenship under the 1955 Citizenship Act needs to be undertaken under the Citizenship Tribunals constituted under that law. Confusions abound as injustice persists.

The Telegraph, With inputs from Nandu Ghosh, Bijni and Zamser Ali.
Teesta Setalvad is secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace

Zhang Jianxin, Cultural and Educational Counselor from Chinese Embassy, along with Dr Dinesh Upadhyay, national co-convenor of BJP medical cell, inaugurates the training session at Dr DN Kotnis Health and Education Centre. Himanashu Mahajan
Zhang Jianxin, Cultural and Educational Counselor from Chinese Embassy, along with Dr Dinesh Upadhyay, national co-convenor of BJP medical cell, inaugurates the training session at Dr DN Kotnis Health and Education Centre. Himanashu Mahajan
Ludhiana: China may have its influence on the world but there are a few Indian things that cast a magical spell on the Chinese. Bollywood movies, Darjeeling tea and Indian philosophy, especially Buddhism, are well appreciated by people of China. This was shared by Zhang Jianxin, Cultural and Educational Counselor from Embassy of Republic of China in India. He was here to attend a function to mark the first international acupuncture training in collaboration with World Federation of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Societies Education, Beijing, China, at Dr DN Kotnis Health and Education Centre.
Jianxin said acupuncture was a successful medium of treatment in China which had existed in India for a long time. “It is a small needle which brought both countries together and more and more such workshops should be organised on acupuncture. China will promote yoga and India will promote acupuncture, and together we can hope for a healthy society. We are here to serve the people,” he said.
Dr DN Kotnis Health and Education Centre is conducting 10-day International Acupuncture Training-cum-Workshop in collaboration with the World Federation of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Societies, Education (WFAS, Edu), Beijing, China, an NGO, in official relations with the World Health Organisation. The training will be given by seven Chinese acupuncture experts from China from July 22 to 31 at the hospital in Salem Tabri.
“This training is a step further to impart acupuncture learning in a standardised way after its official recognisation as independent health care system by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in February. Acupuncture is a traditional science which is safe and without side effects if practised by a trained practitioner. Traditional medicines have now also been included in the 11th revision of World Health Organisation (WHO) International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD),” said Dr Inderjeet Singh (Director).
Nearly 70 doctors have registered for the workshop from all over India. There will be a special lecture by Prof Ren Xiaoyan, original inventors of micro acupuncture, and famous acupuncture cosmetologist, Dr Zhaolinag Ding, will also deliver a special lecture on the two-needle technique. Prof Yang Shuo, Prof Yang Xiaofang, Prof Sau Chu Florence, Dr Chen Ming will also be sharing their experience and research activities with Indian doctors.
Major aspects of training programme

The training will cover major aspects such as neurological disorders, paralysis, facial paralysis, chronic pain syndromes, cosmetic problems, alopecia, nerve weakness and stress management. The Chinese doctors will also provide free consultation to general patients related to topics at hospital campus during the session.

Momos equal to poison: Dr Upadhyay 

“Momos should not be consumed as these are equal to poison and are spreading diseases,” said Dr Dinesh Upadhyay, national co-convener of medical cell of BJP and member of governing body of AYUSH. “The liking of Indian people for momos has increased over the years but they are just uncooked refined floor, be it steamed or fried, they are unhealthy and should be avoided. In fact, one should stay away from all kinds of fast food. Momos are made of refined flour and to stay healthy, one should stay away from three whites in life, refined flour, sugar and salt,” said Dr Upadhyay. He was also present at the event.

Khaupum Valley of Noney District of Manipur
Tamenglong, July 21 (MExN): The Zeliangrong Baudi (ZB) Manipur state today deplored the disturbances allegedly created by the Sikh and Gorkha regiment of Indian Army in and around Khaupum Valley of Noney District of Manipur.

Poupoklung Kamei, President, ZB Manipur state in a press release regretted that villagers, farmers, and others who earn their daily wages in the area were facing acute hardship to resume their works due to continuing operations and deployment of military personnel “in the name of flashing out the underground outfits from the valley.”

The release stated that while cultivators have been aggrieved for months due to drought during this season, the “Indian Army Sikh and Gorkha regiments were harassing the villagers by confining them in a particular place,” not allowing the farmers to go out to their fields to work.

The ZB Manipur condemned the “frequent random frisking carried out to womenfolk by the Indian Army” in and around the village, asserting that such act should be condemned by all the right thinking citizens.

It further condemned the alleged indiscriminate firing by 13 Sikh Light infantry at Leishok village on July 19 which caused panic in the entire area. A number of firing incidents were committed by the Indian Army in the past as well in the excuse of encountering with “underground outfits” where many unexploded explosives were scattered in the jhuming cultivation forest, it said.

Explosives left behind from random firing have caused loss of many precious lives, adding that two young children were killed and other three seriously injured while playing with unexploded explosive in 2018. In another incident, two young school going girls were killed and their mother seriously injured while clearing the jungle in the field. It feared many such are still lying in the cultivation area. Facing such terror situation, the Indian Army deployed in the area is “nothing but to harass the innocent public in this area,” the ZB Manipur alleged.

It also accused the Indian Army of having an alliance ‘with an insurgent group who are having cease fire with Government of India while carrying out operation to flash out other underground outfits and harassing the general public in the area’.

While stating that the “Zeliangrong people are peace loving people and want to live in peace and progress in any part of the Zeliangrong areas be it Assam, Nagaland or Manipur,” it has appealed to the Authority of the Indian Army to withdraw their operation in the jungle of jhuming cultivation of Khaupum Valley area “which is nothing but constant harassing to the peace loving innocent Zeliangrong villagers,” it added.

Two poachers with leopard skin arrested in Darjeeling
Siliguri, Jul 21 (UNI): Two poachers carrying the skin of an adult leopard have been arrested from Sukiapokahri on the Indo-Nepal border of West Bengal's Darjeeling district, forest department officials said today.
Pranesh Subba (27) of Ramji bustee and Anant Tamang (23) of Rangbang bustee were
detained early today by the forest department with the skin of a female leopard found in their procession.
The forest department maintained that the two had killed the leopard at Rangbang the Indo-Nepal border under Sukhia Pokhri block, about 35 km from here and buried the body of the leopard at Rangbang river about four months ago.
The forest department maintained that they had got a tip-off on this and had gone to the area and found these culprits. They maintained that the carcass of the leopard had been buried near Rangbang river where the skull of the leopard was recovered while the skin was taken to Ramji bustee.
The duo was booked under the Wildlife Protection Act Section 51. Under this Act, if a person is found guilty of poaching and hunting wild animals then they have to give a fine of Rs 25,000 and could get a sentence of about seven years.
The two will be handed to the police by the evening today and be forwarded to court tomorrow.

A little-known story of Nepal’s Sikh connection
Nepal has a small but a vibrant Sikh community that is best known for its role as transporters, who opened Nepal to the modern world. Not many, though, know that Nepal’s Sikh heritage dates to Guru Nanak Dev, who travelled through Nepal during his third udasi.
Marking his sojourn in Kathmandu is Nanak Math, which has a peepul tree marking the exact spot where Guru Saheb meditated. The math, like a few other shrines in Kathmandu, is linked to the Udasi tradition and has a mahant presiding over it. The shrine is not well-known and remains neglected; this prompted author Desmond Doig to call it the “forgotten shrine of the Sikhs”. Nepal also boasts several handwritten copies of the Guru Granth Sahib, including a couple in the Pashupatinath Temple complex.
The Sikh connection with Nepal developed during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh when the armies of the Sikh and Gorkha courts fought inconclusively in the Kangra region. The valour of the Gorkhas led the Lahore Court to recruit them. Even today, Nepalese serving in the Indian Army are colloquially referred to as “Lahureys”.

Later, when Maharani Jind Kaur escaped from the British, she came to Nepal and lived in the country for several years. Accompanying her was a large body of Sikhs. When she left Nepal, many of them settled down in the area around Nepalgunj, bordering Uttar Pradesh. Retaining their Sikh identity, including wearing unshorn hair and maintaining gurudwaras in the villages of their concentration, they are a community largely missing in the annals of the Sikh diaspora.
In modern times, Sikhs have played pioneering roles in Nepal not only as transporters but also as engineers, doctors, police officers, teachers, educationists, pilots, and even as fashion designers. Indeed, the person credited with laying the first drinking water pipes in Kathmandu was a Sikh, Manohar Singh. And, of course, by setting up the first restaurants, they paved the way for popularising Punjabi cuisine in Nepal.

The story of Sikh transporters is legendary in Nepal. In the early 1950s, hailing from the Jammu region, many of them personally navigated the newly laid tracks of the Tribhuvan Highway, and crossed rivers to haul their trucks to Kathmandu. They also started the first public bus service in the country, and have been active in the setting up of modern schools in the country.
The Sikh community in Nepal in the 1980s totaled more than a few thousand and built a grand gurudwara in Kathmandu’s Kupondole neighbourhood, apart from smaller gurudwaras in Birgunj, Nepalgunj and Krishnanagar. It is further enriched by Nepalis like Sardar Gurbaksh Singh embracing Sikhism.
India’s diplomatic ties with Nepal also have a strong Sikh connection with Sardar Surjit Singh Majithia being the first ambassador and establishing the embassy in 1947. His arrival and departure, by air, saw the first uses of the landing strip that is now the runway at Tribhuvan International Airport.
As we celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the Sikh connection of Nepal will be further strengthened as Nepal has started minting three commemorative coins – two in silver with denomination of Nepali Rupees 2,500 and 1,000 and a cupronickel coin with a face value of Nepali Rupees 100 – to be launched on this auspicious occasion. Nepal is one of few countries issuing legal tender featuring a Sikh connection.
Manjeev Singh Puri is India’s ambassador to Nepal
The views expressed are personal

World Muay Thai Championship 2019
DIGBOI: Braving the fury of the devastating floods almost across the state of Assam, an economically crippled daughter of the soil Rita Tamang of Assam’s remote border village of Jagun in Tinsukia District is finally all set to steal the ring in the World Muay Thai Championship 2019 slated to be held in Bangkok in Thailand from July 19 to 30. The tournament is being organized by International Facility Management Association (IFMA) with the slogan “Muaythai Is Coming Home”.
Of the total 108 countries participating in the said international event, India would be represented by 5 athletes including Janu Kondh in male category under 51 KG segment, – Nupur Ranjan Borah in male category under 81 KG segment, Ranjan Singha in male category under 63.5 KG segment, Dipankar Borah in male category under 57 KG segment while the only female fighter of India Rita Tamang would fight for the C’Ship under 48 KG segment.
The determined athlete Rita Tamang a student of Tirap High School who has already been a 2017 gold medalist in the Amateur category of the Muay Thai Championship leaves her home town this afternoon in the quest of earning glory for her home state Assam and country as a whole. The imminent financial impediment that the agrarian parents of the budding athlete were confronted with earlier was overcome with the active involvement and assistance that subsequently poured in from various quarters cutting across all differences.
Expressing a sense of gratitude towards Kamlung Mossang one of the high voltage cabinets Minister of Arunachal Pradesh for his kind gesture of extending an amount of Rs 50,000 to the said participant at the nick of time for the noble cause, Prem Tamang the President of All Assam Gorkha student Union talking to this reporter expected that the athlete would outshine the rivals in the rings and held the nation high in the international arena. ‘Besides helping her in personal capacity, the AAGSU has also extended financial assistance to encourage the budding player’, said Tamang.
Maila Limbu a Gorkha activist of Miao-Vijanagar area of Arunachal Pradesh while handing over the cash on behalf of Mr Mossang to the parents of Rita Tamang on Wednesday evening at her residence said that the Minister would be glad to assist and support the cause of the sports and athlete vying for international status representing the country. Meanwhile, the local student body, socio-cultural organizations and individuals from various walks of life also lent their helping hands and wished her a good luck for the C’Ship.

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