After the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) excluded over 19 lakh individuals from the list, more than about a lakh Gorkhas were among the ones that were excluded. Gorkhas have been hailed as one of the fiercest warriors in the Indian Armed Forces. Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw once said, “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha.” However, Gorkhas from Assam are facing trouble after the NRC list was announced on August 31.
Many families of former soldiers who settled in Bonda hills of Assam have been excluded from the list. Several families among the community who were not considered as Indian citizens have fought legal battles for years. The court had granted them citizenship, but after the NRC list, they are once again required to prove their citizenship.
The NRC is a register of Indian citizens living in Assam. The list was released by the Government of Assam, but various arms of the state and central government have been working on the registry. As per the NRC rules, any individual who cannot prove that they or their ancestors entered the country before midnight of March 24, 1971, would be declared as a foreigner and can face deportation. The first NRC list was compiled in 1951. The list was updated and released on August 31 and included 3,11,21,004 individuals while excluding 19,06,657 individuals.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said that those who have been excluded from the list will not face immediate detention and will not face any consequences until all the remedies available to them are exhausted. While the list is not a proof of citizenship, the Government has granted 120 days to reapply and defend the case of those whose names have not been mentioned. People excluded from NRC list will now have to appeal to the Foreigners Tribunals within the stipulated time frame. These individuals will continue to enjoy all the rights they are granted under the Constitution of India and can purchase property, avail education and can be employed as well. The Government of Assam has made the necessary arrangements to provide legal aid to the needy people through the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA). The Ministry said in its statement that 200 new Foreigners Tribunals will be made functional in addition to the existing 100 tribunals. Thus, non-inclusion of a person's name in the NRC does not by itself amount to him/her being declared as a foreigner. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has also given assurance to pacify those who were excluded from the list saying, "No one should be worried. No one should panic. Government is here to take care of everyone. Even those who will be excluded from the final list will get enough opportunity to prove their Indian citizenship".