Women talk about their relationship with the land, family and state

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by the Indian Parliament in December 2019 promises citizenship to migrants belonging to the “Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan”. By excluding Muslims from the list and not extending the promise to refugees from one of India’s non-Muslim neighbors, the CAA is making religion the basis of citizenship for the first time in the history of the republic. Many fear that this law, in conjunction with a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), will ultimately be used to deprive India’s Muslims of the right to vote or to put them in the permanent state of fear and insecurity that has been the fate of millions of Bengalis . Origin Muslims from Assam.

Edited by Harsh Mander and Navsharan Singh, This country is mine, I am not from this country brings together a comprehensive selection of essays that deal with theoretical, political and subjective aspects of this topic. The book argues that with a key value like citizenship, not only the fate of Indian citizens but also the very democratic foundation of the republic is at stake.

The following are excerpts from the essay by Varna Balakrishnan and Navsharan Singh.

Khairun Nisha

Khairun Nisha of Mulagaon County (name and location changed) was 15-16 years old when she was married. She moved with her husband to his village, which was a few kilometers away. They lived in the village for about two years, where she gave birth to a baby girl at home, and when the floods washed her house, she came to live with her birth family with her husband and baby girl. They stayed there. She had two more babies in her parents’ house, both boys. When her youngest was two and she was 26, she was declared a D-voter. She didn’t know how this came about because neither her siblings nor her husband were marked with a “D”. Maybe the border security

Forced laborers went to the man’s village and no one could confirm a young girl Khairun Nisha as a resident of that village.

Their grandfather had lived in Rangapani since the late 1930s, and the family had all the records to show that they were residents of the village. The estate documents were all there and with some effort they were also able to provide documents that prove the connection. Mind you, it is not easy, as one might think, for women to prove that they are their father’s daughters. How can you They never have to have a legal or civil identity – Khairun did not have a birth certificate or school report saying “Khairun Nisha, daughter of Md … who was Md’s son … was added to the 1938 Nazul register. Her nikah was never registered and the nikahnama the proof of residence provided by the village of maulvi in ​​the NRC document list is in any case not admissible.

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But the family tried bravely and was able to obtain a document that, like all of their other siblings, identified them as their father’s daughter. Armed with this evidence, she began to represent her case in various offices, but the newly acquired document was not considered proof of her residence, and in 2009 the Aliens Court declared her a foreigner and took her to the Kokrajhar Detention Center. , about 125 kilometers from their village.

It has been 10 years and Khairun Nisha, an “illegal invader from Bangladesh,” continues to languish in the Kokrajhar Detention Center. Her little boy is now 12 – she has only seen him twice in these ten years and he has not recognized her. The other son is 15 and works on the notoriously exploitative construction sites of Meghalaya. Her daughter, who was married two years ago and raises the two boys as a domestic helper, has also only seen her mother a few times during these years. The father of these children, the husband of Khairun, could not cope with the disaster that struck the family when Khairun was arrested. He got sick, did not eat well, and did not sleep well. In the ten years that Khairun has been in the detention center, he has not visited her once. He couldn’t bear to see her there, he confessed. And this man died a month ago. Khairun was not informed of his death. Because her eyes are rotten from crying endlessly in all those ten years – maybe she cried for all of us because we didn’t shed tears when she, the opposing party, OP, as they are called in the official language, was from the police Picked up the immigration court.

Khairun is now around 35 years old and would be home soon following the recent Supreme Court order to release her three years in the detention center. But when Khairun, the supposed foreigner, the illegal Bangladeshi, finally comes home after ten long years and is reunited with her family, one could imagine that everyone is relieved. But we will just have to hold our breath longer and deeper. Because she will realize that she has only made it to the start of another long, arduous and volatile legal process that is difficult to predict or prepare. She will be released on terms that include two bills of one lakh each, weekly police reports, and perhaps a magnetic tracking bracelet or anklet suggested by the Chief Justice in a discussion on the matter. The family arranged the two guarantees, but has been waiting for approval from the state interior ministry for two months. When asked about the tracking tape, the family was very upset and thought that it would only worsen the distress for all of them.

Due to their imprisonment, 52 family members could not find their names on the NRC list, which was declared on August 31, 2019, despite the complete family tree and legacy and liaison documents presented. Besides being released, they are running around preparing to appeal. Arbitrarily and callously stamping a ‘D’ on Khairun’s voter card has created a monumental crisis for the whole family.

She learns that her two sons who are after the 3rd -illegale immigrants.

We met Khairun’s family on November 17th, 2019 at their home in the Mulagaon district. Khairun’s mother kept crying all the time, like asking us why? Why did it have to be that way? The sad thing is, it didn’t have to and shouldn’t be.



Swati Bidhan Baruah, Assam’s first transgender judge and president of the All Assam Transgender Association, highlights the specific void transsexuals fall into under the NRC. “Most of the transgender people have been abandoned. In addition, the transgender person has to struggle with their own identity in society and in the family. When a trans child has been kicked out or abandoned by their parents and given to trans groups, a child falls into the culture of a matriarchal tradition or a transgender tradition.

In such a situation, documents proving the parentage between the parents and the transgender person, even from 1971, are very problematic. ‘ This alienation from the biological family

and the adoption of a new family, under a gharana System, can often go hand in hand with the migration in search of a community.

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In these circumstances, it becomes even more difficult for trans women to have land and family documents. Baruah notes that returning to the birth family to collect documents and meet the requirements of the NRC process forces many transsexuals back into abusive and hostile households and related trauma. For many, going back to their birth families is not an option at all. Baruah estimates that nearly two thousand Assamese trans people have been expelled from the NRC, including those who have emigrated and may be closed. However, Baruah claims that being a trans person is not the immediate cause of her exclusion. Perhaps Baruah’s own situation provides a telling contrast. Even though she had to go through her own acceptance problems with family and society, Baruah’s family lives with her today. She also has documents showing her family’s 200 year history and residence in Assam and the privilege that goes with it. Most importantly, Baruah has the social capital to be a judge and an activist. It was therefore easy for them to prove their relationship with the land, family and state. These are luxuries that most trans people from the state cannot afford.

Procedural inconsistencies within the NRC also add to the obstacles. While registration as a trans person is possible in the first round of the NRC, trans people who have been objected to will not have the opportunity to identify themselves as a trans person in the hearing. Not only does this create a gender identity problem, it also creates potentially devastating documentary inconsistencies.

Working directly with bureaucracy and the police often exposes trans people to further vulnerability and potential abuse. In most cases, these engagements force trans people to advocate and defend their gender identity over and over again. Says Baruah, “What interests them more than the person’s identity is what is between the legs … Even if you see the various instances of police harassment involving the transgender community, you will find that most trans people are sexually abused by them.” become the police … Most officers are still not properly sensitized or familiar with the transgender factor. ‘ As a result, many seek to minimize their direct involvement with the police and other government agencies. Many trans people whose names are not in

the first NRC draft therefore did not even submit claims to avoid submitting itself to the hearing process.

The design of inclusive citizenship requires acceptance of the cultural and social realities of trans people who look beyond the heteronormative notions of “family”. Baruah argues that the NRC process should therefore recognize the legitimacy of the adoptive family structures of the Gharanas and the ancestry of the guru-chela Tradition.

We met Swati in November 2019.

These are excerpts from This country is mine, I am not from this country: CAA-NRC and the establishment of statelessness, edited by Harsh Mander and Navsharan Singh and published by Speaking Tiger Books, 2021. Republished here with permission from the publisher.

Navsharan Singh is a Delhi-based researcher and senior program specialist in the Asia office of the International Development Research Center in New Delhi.
Varna Balakrishnan is a researcher and human rights worker with a focus on citizenship, local violence and gender.

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