80-yr-old Assam woman who lost her son over citizenship asked to prove she’s Indian

An eighty-year-old woman from Assam’s Cachar district, whose son died by suicide after getting a notice from the foreigners’ tribunal in 2012 to prove his citizenship, has received a fresh notice from a tribunal asking her to prove she’s Indian.

The woman named Akol Rani Namasudra is a resident of Haritikar Part-1 under Katogorah assembly constituency near the Indo-Bangladesh international border. Last month, a foreigners’ tribunal in Silchar asked her to appear before the court on March 5.

The notice said, “You (Akol Rani Namasudra) could not produce any valid document before the police during enquiry/verification regarding your citizenship within the stipulated period of time and on this ground, you are suspected to be an illegal migrant.”

Senior lawyer from Silchar, advocate Anil Dey has taken the responsibility of presenting Akol Rani Namasudra’s case in the Foreigners’ Tribunal.

Speaking to HT Dey said, “Her son died due to a similar notice in 2012 but he was declared Indian after his death. I don’t understand how that person’s mother once again received a notice from the same FT court. The court has asked her to appear again on April 4 and we are going to produce adequate documents on that day.”

Despite holding a citizenship card of 1956 issued by the Government of India in his father’s name, Arjun Namasudra’s Indian identity was questioned in 2012. He died by suicide out of fear of being arrested and pushed to Bangladesh, according to his family.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign visited Cachar and mentioned Arjun Namasudra’s name in his speech. He said, “Arjun Namasudra is my brother and I am pained by his death. I assure you that if BJP comes to power, no Arjun will be pushed to detention camp, no one will have to live in fear or commit suicide.”

Arjun Namasudra’s family continued to fight the case against him even after his death. Arjun was declared Indian in 2013 by the foreigners’ tribunal court-4 of Cachar district. Later his four children, wife and mother found place in the final draft of NRC.

“We live in a border area where a fear of being thrown out from India is common and that fear disturbed my son. I lost my son almost a decade back and have nothing to lose today. I have been asked to prove my identity again and respecting the judiciary, I will try to do that,” Akol Bala Namasudra said.

After PM Modi’s 2014 speech, then president of Assam Pradesh BJP, Sarbananda Sonowal visited Arjun’s house and assured that the government will take care of the family. He also assured them of arranging a monthly pension for the family but as per the members of the family no financial aid came from the government or from any public representative.

Arjun Namasudra’s family and in-laws stay in the same area at Haritikar Village under Katigorah constituency of Cachar where the government had allotted land to 173 migrated families from East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) who took shelter in refugee camps near the international border. But many of their descendants have received D-Voter notices in recent years and many of them also failed to register their name in the final draft of NRC.

Before Arjun’s mother, his mother-in-law Sabitri Biswas also received a notice from the Foreigners’ Tribunal in 2017 and the family is fighting the case till date.

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