Guwahati: Day after Anna Bala Rai, a declared ‘foreigner’ was released by the foreigner’s tribunal in Assam’s Cachar district on submitting proof of Indian citizenship, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) came to the aid of fenced out ‘foreigners’ languishing in the detention centres across Assam.
AASU President Dipanka Nath said during a talk show on News 18 Assam-Northeast that the students’ union is ready to offer legal help to ‘doubtful voters’ who can prove that they are genuine Indian citizens.
Nath said that if any ‘D-Voter’ has their name in the electoral rolls up to March 25, 1971 and if they can submit one of the 14 admissible documents as proof for inclusion in the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC), AASU will fight their case in court.
“We will support those who can prove their Indian citizenship. If they can show their name in the voter’s list before 1971 and submit any one of the 14 documents, AASU will offer legal help to get them out of the detention centres,” said Nath.
“We will pay for their commute to come to the AASU office in Guwahati. If they are genuine Indians, we will do best to rescue them,” Nath added.
The AASU while demanding that not a single illegal Bangladeshi should find place in the NRC, also said that genuine Indian citizens should not be harassed. The students’ union claimed to have helped several people who had been wrongfully declared D-Voters and confined in detention centres.
“We want a solution to the problem. There’s no question of Hindu-Muslim here. AASU have opened units at different places and many have approached us. We fought for them in court and their cases have been disposed. We don’t want any genuine Indian citizens to be harassed. Those in detention camps should also be kept in a humane way,” said Dipanka Nath.
A few days ago, a 102-year-old man was released on bail by the foreigner’s tribunal in Cachar district. Chandradhar Das, who was declared a ‘foreigner’, had spent three months in the detention camp before being released on humanitarian and legal grounds
Dr Jyotirmoy Jana, a retired professor in Nagaon district questioned the respective district administration on this.
“It is unfortunate that a centenarian was arrested and made to live in a detention centre despite possessing a 1966 citizenship certificate. Was the administration sleeping like Rip Van Winkle to suddenly wake up and arrest him at this age?” asked Jana.
There are about 2,000 such ‘foreigners’ in six detention camps of Assam after the Tribunal declared them ‘foreigners’. Although a few got relief from the Supreme Court upon challenging the verdict, many are waiting in despair.
Earlier in March this year, around 250 inmates at the Goalpara Detention Centre inside the district jail staged an indefinite hunger strike protesting against the indifferent attitude of the government and the system that indicted them as ‘foreigners’. A young man who went to see his relative at the detention centre spoke to News 18 on condition of anonymity.
“My uncle is a ‘declared foreigner’ living here for the past nine months, and there are so many like him staying at the camp for years. I could not bear to see frail old men crying profusely, bowing to their fate and little children wailing after seeing their father in confinement.”
In August 2015, two neighbour from Assam’s Udalguri district, Ashraf Ali and Kismat Ali, were declared illegal migrants from Bangladesh and sent to the detention camp in Goalpara jail. They were made to wait for more than two years to return home after the tribunal acting on a Supreme Court order finally set them free. Ashraf Ali hails from Bihar while Kismat’s family moved to Assam from Uttar Pradesh in the 1950s.
Meanwhile, there’s mounting anxiety after NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela said that names of around 1.5 lakh people in the first draft would be excluded from the final draft NRC to be published on July 30.
Hajela said that a total of 65,694 false cases have come to the fore during the ‘family tree verification process’ and another 48,456 cases of married women who submitted panchayat certificates for linkage have been found non-admissible during re-verification process.