Thousands of Muslims under pressure to meet the deadline earlier this month for significant re-verification of the civil register in Assam.
These people from Kamrup, Goalpara and South Salmara districts in lower Assam received a National Register of Citizens (NRC) notice on 3 August which sent them for 24-48 hours at NRC service centers 400 km away in Sivasagar, Charaidev and Golaghat districts, asking to be present within in Upper Assam.
Having worked hard to complete their journey in such a short span of time, many poor Muslims had pledged their valuables, including their gold jewelery or sold their cattle and harvested crops at throwaway prices.
Their hardship was reduced as they were forced to travel with their octagonal parents and children in overload buses, which charged them a premium.
But, in the land of Sankardeb-Azan Faqir, where the centuries-old tradition of communal bonding still exists, these poor people found almost everything in need – food, water and even taking a pregnant woman Doctor too, from a group of unknown people.
For 72-year-old Imamul Haq of South Salmara district, who had confined himself to his community in the area in which he lives, the forced visit of Sivasagar, the capital of the Ahom kings in the 17th century, opened up a new world for him.
“The youth of Sivasagar had provided khichdi and drinking water to hundreds of people like me for free,” said Zaheerul Alam.
He even arranged for a doctor to examine a pregnant woman who had been summoned to appear before the NRC center, who was recalled to Zahira Khatoon from Nagbera.
The maintenance of dargahs by the Hindus at Sivasagar left a deep impact on Sukur Ali, a high school student in Golpara.
The cooperation of the administration and local Hindu people changed the mindset of the Muslims.
“They understood that political and vested interests are trying to create a Hindu-Muslim divide that goes against the traditional communal harmony of Assam,” said Zaheerul Islam, spokesperson of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).
Mr.Islam said, he became emotional when he saw young local girls running to the District Deputy Commissioner Office to arrange ORS packets and prepare hydration drinks again for children traveling long distances with their families.
The Supreme Court NRC is monitoring the updated practice and is firming on the August 31 deadline for officials to complete the process.
Assam is the only state in India where NRC is being practiced for the first time since 1951.