ASOTA Testimony: Masooma Akhtar

Masooma Akhtar was served a notice from the Foreigners Tribunal in Assam despite being included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

*All names and personal details have been changed or beeped to protect the survivors’ identity.spent three and a half years in a detention centre in Assam.

Q- Can we use the recording of our discussion?

A- Yes, you can use it.

Q- What is your name?

A- [BEEP].

Q- Where is your birthplace?

A- [BEEP].

Q- Can you recall any memorable incident from your childhood related to your place of birth?

A- I went to School up to class V-VI, after that I discontinued my study, I used to play in my childhood, work at home,.

Q- When did you learn about NRC for the first time?

A- Nearly 7-8 years back.

Q- How harmful was the NRC to you and your family?

A- NRC was very disastrous for us. I had to go to [BEEP], I can’t recall the exact name of the place.

Q- How long does it take to travel from here?

A- It takes at least 3-4 hours. We went there by hiring a vehicle.

Q- What time in the morning did you go for the hearing?

A- At around 8 O’ clock.

Q- What is your expense in NRC hearing?

A- We hired a vehicle for Rs. 4-5 thousand for 1 day. All of our family members went for the hearing.

Q- What is your total expense?

A- At least Rs. 15,000.

Q- Is there any case running in your name in the FT court?

A- Yes, there was a case. We have solved the case now. At least Rs. 50-60 thousand was spent for this purpose. But again I am served with a new notice.

Q- What about your earlier case?

A- In my earlier case I was declared as an Indian citizen. But, again I am served with a new notice.

Q- How many days back you are served with a notice?

A- 3 months back. The lawyers say that on the name of a single person the notice may come 3-4 times also.

Q- Were you afraid when you got the FT notice?

A- I was very afraid , I cried and gave up eating foods, I couldn’t sleep at night till this day, and I have spent Rs. 15,000 in the meantime for the purpose of the new notice. This time when I went to the court, the lawyer was present and he told me that the Judge is absent and a new Judge will be appointed. We returned back, the lawyer will give us a new date, then we will have to go again.

Q- In the name of hearing, each day you have to spend money?

A- Yes.

Q- What is your approximate expense each day?

A- Rs. 5,000 everyday.

Q- In your earlier case also you had to spend a lot of money?

A- Yes.

Q- How did you manage all this money required?

A- We had given up eating to manage the money, when I was served with the first notice my son had 10th board examination before, we couldn’t manage tuition, couldn’t provide him good food, this is a matter of sorrow, we had to go through hardship to manage the money. My brothers and sisters also helped financially. We do not have a proper earning source.

Q- Did you sell any cattle like cows or goats?

A- We had no cows or goats at that time.

Q- How your life changed from the time when you had no FT Case to the present time when FT case is running on your name?

A- Time was good earlier, now we are going through a financial crisis. Earlier when we thought of reconstructing our house at that time notice was served to me. So we had to simply reconstruct the house with bamboo pillars just to survive. To goto to court each day we have to spend Rs. 5000. We have no money now, we have grown little crops in the field. For the reconstruction of the house we had bought soil or sand by tractor, we couldn’t pay the money for that, we are in debt. For growing crops in the field also money is required for tilling. We are waiting now because on any date the lawyer may ask us to appear before the court.

Q- Did your name appear in NRC?

A- Yes, my name appeared in NRC.

Q- Was there the Corona pandemic when the FT case was running on your name?

A- No, at that time the Corona pandemic was not there.

Q- You had to spend a lot of money in the FT case, soon after that Lockdown was declared, how did you survive at the time of Lockdown?

A- We ate our food with salt and chilly, thus somehow we survived the hard time. What else are we supposed to do?

Q- Are you vaccinated against Coronavirus?

A- Yes, I am vaccinated.

Q- Have you taken both the doses?

A- Yes, I am vaccinated with both the doses.

Q- Was that free or money was charged from you?

A- It was free.