Kolkata: Much before the publication of the final draft of National Register of Citizen (NRC) in Assam, a former leader of Hindu Samhati, a far-right organization operating out of West Bengal, kick-started an online campaign on crowdfunding site Milaap.
The online campaign titled, “Help Hindu Bengalis in Assam to save them from becoming refugee again” was initiated on July 25 by Samhati’s former leader Prasun Maitra.
In an appeals to the public to donate money for the Bengali Hindus have not made it to the to the draft NRC list. The campaign money (INR 2,500,000) Maitra declares would be used for rehabilitation, providing legal support, organizing seminars and meets and other miscellaneous activities like transportation and publication.
Reacting to this campaign flagged off by Samhati, Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, Congress leader and the party’s chief in Bengal, said, “We all are concerned about the genuine Bengalis who have not made it to the NRC draft list. We need to come forward and help the genuine Indians, who despite documents have not made it to the list. I have even written to the Home Minister, regarding a number of people from Murshidabad, my constituency, residing in Assam and have not made it to the draft NRC list. There shouldn’t be any discrimination on the basis of religion.”
He then added, “I actually am not being able to figure out how beneficial a crowdfunding campaign will be for these people.”
Speaking along the same line, Education Minister of West Bengal, Partha Chatterjee, questioned the need of crowdfunding. “Documents would be needed to be furnished to prove citizenship. So, where is the need to collect the money? I am unable to understand the connection between money and documents,” he said.
Questioning the premise of Samhati collecting money he said, “I presume, it’s unwise for them to crowdfund money. I would advise them to do voluntary services and not go around collecting money.”
However, a Guwahati-based lawyer, who on a personal level has been helping many in Assam, to legally fight their battle of being excluded from the draft NRC list, on condition of anonymity said, “I have been providing legal aid, free of cost to those in need irrespective of one’s religion, but at a personal level. At a mass level, providing legal aid would definitely need funds.”
Kolkata-based human right activist, Sujata Bhadra, also maintained that financial help would be needed for the survival of those languishing in detention camps, however, he stressed, “If this endeavour is meant for ‘Bengali Hindus’ alone then this move surely has a partisan view and sectarian and communal overtone. Solidarity to all stateless people should be shown, irrespective of their religion.”
He then added, “Already there are serious complaints related to NRC having procedural lacuna and lapses, which to a great extent are communally biased. NRC itself is not functioning well, and now a taking up the cause of only one section of the excluded population can only complicate the existing volatile condition of Assam.” He also added that the Supreme Court should also take into account the historical background of the two partitions, ethnicity, language and culture of the subcontinent as this is not just a legal issue.