ASOTA Testimony: Shankari Arya

Shankari Arya was served a notice from the Foreigners Tribunals 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- My name is [BEEP].

Q-Where is your birthplace?

A- [BEEP].

Q- This place is in which area?

A- [BEEP].

Q- In which District?

A- [BEEP]. 

Q- Can you recall any childhood memories related to your birthplace like Puja, marriage function or any accident?

A- I can remember the Puja celebration but I do not remember any accident. 

Q- In which place you have gone for a Puja or marriage function, or if you have gone to any School, what is the name of the School?

A- Yes, I went to School.

Q- What is the name of the School?

A- [BEEP]. 

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

A- In the NRC list my name also appeared with everyone.

Q- How was the NRC harmful to you?

A- One of my sister’s husbands died during the process. The matter is that there was a mistake in his name, so he was sent to Jail. He was a famous person, he couldn’t accept it, so he died there.

Q- In which place he died?

A- In [BEEP]. 

Q- Did he commit suicide or he was ill?

A- No, he was not ill. He was a well known person; he thought about how he would show his face to people coming out from Jail. Thus, he couldn’t accept this stress and died there. He was the husband of my nephew. They have two small children.

Q- Did your name appear in NRC?

A- Yes, my name appeared in NRC.  

Q- After that you are also served with a notice from the Foreigner’s Tribunal?

A- Yes, I got the notice after my name appeared in the NRC. After my name appeared in NRC and I got the voting rights again, notice was served to me. 

Q- Can you recall any memorable incident related to NRC, like where you have to go for verification?

A- All of my sisters went to the same verification centre.

Q- In which place was it?

A- In [BEEP]. 

Q- All of your siblings went to the same centre?

A- No, only we sisters went to the same centre. 

Q- Have you faced any misbehaviour from the government officials during the NRC process?

A- No. 

Q- What is your total expense in the NRC process?

A- We have spent at least Rs. 10,000. My sisters had to come from different places. 

Q- Have you got any help from NGOs or any individuals in the NRC process?

A- No. 

Q- As your case is running in the FT Court, is there any lawyer who is fighting your case?

A- Yes, a lawyer is fighting my case.

Q- What is the Lawyer’s charge for this case?

A- More than Rs. 1,20,000. 

Q- We will talk to the lawyer in the future, if you have his phone number you will share with us.

A- Sure. 

Q- How did your life change after the case of FT Court, was your life better earlier?

A- My life was certainly better earlier; I do not have to spend so much money. Also we do not have a proper earning source. 

Q- Do you feel that you are weaker than the other people after the case in the FT Court? Do you think that you are suffering from an inferiority complex?

A- Yes, I feel weaker than other people with low self esteem. 

Q- How was the Corona Pandemic harmful to you?

A- Corona Pandemic was very much harmful to us. We had no work to do; we also didn’t receive any assistance. I have no ration card, so we didn’t receive any assistance.

Q- Why don’t you have a ration card?

A- I think as I had no voting rights, so I have no ration card. I have the old card, but I didn’t get the new card issued to women. 

Q- Have you got any assistance from NGOs, government sources or any individuals?

A- No, I have not got any such help. 

Q- Are you vaccinated?

A- Yes, I am vaccinated.

Q- Have you taken both the doses?

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

Q- Were you charged money for vaccination?

A- No, it was free. Just I had to pay the transportation charge for going to the vaccination centre.