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Title: Experiencing the violence of law: Contextualising the NRC process in Assam
Authors: Tiwari, Anubhav Dutt
Singh, Prashant
Keywords: Citizenship
Illegal migrant
Legal violence
Foreigners tribunals
Issue Date: Jun-2021
Publisher: Jindal Global Law Review, Springer Nature, Switzerland
Citation: Tiwari, A.D. and Singh, P. (2021). Experiencing the violence of law: Contextualising the NRC process in Assam. Jindal Global Law Review 12(01), 29-54
Abstract: Assam has been a site for a hugely contested project of (re)determining an Indian ‘citizen’ through a purely identity document–based administrative legal exercise. Verification of citizenship-related documents has been a ubiquitous reality in Assam, almost since India’s independence, but in recent years, more pertinently, as a result of the Supreme Court–monitored update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. The NRC’s interwoven relationship with the existing legal framework applicable to ‘foreigners’, particularly with the role of the Foreigners Tribunals (FT) in the state, creates a ‘legal’ picture of individuals, based on an incessant reliance on State-recognised identification documents. Law, thus, comes across as highly technocratic, with the potential to ignore the human aspects of deprivation of citizenship status as well as the hardships and anxieties around citizenship determination processes. One of the critical perspectives on such a legal outlook is to divert the spotlight towards the people’s experiences, particularly the marginalised, and their interactions with such legal, bureaucratic citizenship determination processes. Drawing from narratives from a study conducted in Assam between June and August 2018, this article seeks to provide a contextual analysis around the question of the potential legal violence unleashed by the NRC exercise which sought to ‘update’ the register of Indian citizens in Assam and exclude ‘foreigners’ pending appeals before the FTs. It puts forth the argument that certain marginalised and vulnerable persons experienced violence sanctioned by law during the NRC process itself due to the Supreme Court’s ignorance and its preoccupation with the image of the ‘illegal migrant’. Therefore, this article is an attempt to contextualise the potential violent effects of law in identifying the ‘other’ in relation to the Indian ‘citizen’ during the NRC, conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Court, which should also have been concerned with the implementation of fundamental rights under the Constitution for the marginalised and the vulnerable.
Description: The authors wish to thank the people in Assam who took part in the interviews. The interviews were part of the feldwork conducted pursuant to a grant from O.P. Jindal Global University’s Research Grants Committee (Grant No. JGU/RGP/2018/020). The authors would also like to thank Dr Jessica Field, Mr Ravi Hemadri, and Ms Tanvi Rastogi for their various roles in the feldwork and the wider project, which has provided the contextual pivot to this article.
ISSN: 23644869
Appears in Collections:JGU Research Publications

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