A Border Security Force (BSF) assistant sub-inspector and his wife have been declared non-Indians by a foreigners’ tribunal (FT) in Assam’s Jorhat district.
Muzibur Rahman, a resident of Udaipur-Mikirpatty in Merapani area of the district, and his wife were declared “foreigners” in an ex-parte order passed in December last year. The officer, who is posted in Punjab, came to know about it when he went to Assam last month.
There are no doubts about the citizenship of Rahman’s parents and siblings.
“We are not Bangladeshis or Pakistanis, we are Indians born in Assam. We have land records going back to 1923. But the border police termed us D-voter (doubtful voter) based on the statement of a drunkard,” Rahman told a local news channel in Assam over phone.
The officer has approached Gauhati high court seeking overruling of the FT’s order.
In Assam, there are 100 FTs, a quasi-judicial body which adjudicates on the citizenship of persons termed suspected foreigners by the border unit of police or termed D-Voter (due to suspicion about the citizenship) in the electoral rolls.
“Notices issued to us to appear before the FT were sent to someone else’s address. As I was posted outside Assam, I was not aware of it nor were we informed about it by the village chief,” Rahman added.
According to Rahman’s lawyer Sudipta Nayan Goswami: “The FT passed the order on December 21 last year based on Section 9 of the Foreigners Act 1946, which stipulates that the onus of proving whether a person is a foreigner or not lies on that person.
“Since the concerned person (Rahman) didn’t appear before the court to adduce his evidence for proving his citizenship, that’s why the court proceeded ex-parte and passed the final judgment against Rahman as a foreigner.”
The lawyer said his client has yet to receive a copy of the order but expects to get it next week.
At present, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is being updated in Assam to identify Indians residing in the state and weed out illegal immigrants. Names of persons declared foreigners by FTs or termed D-voters will not be included in the final NRC list.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Friday took stock of law and order ahead of publication of the final NRC list on August 31.
He directed deputy commissioners and police superintendents of all districts to inform people about the legal measures open to those left out of the NRC list so there is no spread of misinformation.
The first draft of NRC released in July last year had excluded names of 4 million of 32.9 million applicants who had applied to be included in the list. Another list released in June this year excluded 100,000 more names.
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