Assam: Declared Indian Citizens Twice, Family Now Needs to Prove Citizenship for 3rd Time

GUWAHATI: The Sonitpur Foreigners Tribunal on June 8 has sent a notice to Nata Sundari Mandal, aged 66, and claims that she entered India illegally after January 1, 1966, and before March 23, 1971.

Now she has been asked to appear before the tribunal in order to prove her citizenship.

The notice has been sent to her family members as well, namely- Kashi Nath Mandal, her husband aged 68, who is a daily wage worker, Govindo, aged 40 who is her son.

The family is now said to be confused over the matter as this is the third notice that they have received. The family is a poor Hindu family from Balijan Kacahri village who will now have to prove to be an Indian and that are the actual and genuine citizens of the Indian territory.

Back in 2016, the Sonitpur Tribunal had judged them to be the legal citizens of the country when the tribunal received their legal documents. Nakul Mandal, who is the other son of Kashi Nath Mandal, said “In 2018, my elder sister, who is married and lives in Darang district of Assam, was served a notice. The tribunal then gave the judgment that they were Indians after verifying all documents. My father, Kashi Nath, was again handed a notice in 2018. This was the second time he got such a notice. We contested it in the tribunal and the ruling was in favour of my father. My father then stated to the magistrate that he is sick and tired of proving be an Indian in his own motherland and doesn’t want to go through the legal harassment again”.

Nakul objects and says, “Thirty-eight members of our then joint family have their names in the National Register of Citizenship 1951, which is a requirement to be a citizen of the country and most importantly residing in Assam. Besides, our family members have their names in the voters’ list of 1966, 1971 and the following elections. My grandfather, Subal Chandra Mandal, too, has his name in the 1951 NRC. My father and all family members have their names in the updated NRC published in 2019 and possess valid Aadhaar and PAN documents. What else does one need to be called an Indian”.

According to him, the Superintendent of Police of that time had taken notice of the repeated notices that were sent to the family and the accuracy of the proofs.

He says, “I had to sell our six cows at one go to pay the lawyer’s fees. Each case cost us nearly Rs 50,000 and till now we have paid Rs 1.5 lakh to prove that we are Indians. I don’t know how my old and fragile father will react to this. I request CM Himanta Biswa Sarma to give us justice”.

A similar kind of issue is reported to have been faced by a local businessman from the village, named Anil Mandal who was served notices of being an illegal citizen in 2011 and 2016 and also the tribunal had given judgment in his favour for both the cases.

Anil Mandal said, “It’s mental and physical harassment. We don’t even know who is filing cases against us”.

The Guwahati high court’s judgment of May 6 said that a person who was proven of his citizenship once cannot be asked about his citizenship again.

It has been noted that there are 100s of such cases across Assam where people are receiving notices from the foreigners’ tribunal courts even when the citizenship of the people was proven by supporting documents.

Disposing of 11 petitions of persons who despite of having valid documents were still asked to prove their citizenship, the Guwahati High Court’s special bench on April 28 issued an order referring the section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure (1908) that states a person who has been declared Indian citizen once in a foreigner’s tribunal proceeding, cannot be asked to prove his/ her citizenship again by the foreigners’ tribunal as the principle of Res Judicata is applicable for these courts.

In Assam, there are 100 tribunals that are working. Previously, 11 Illegal Migrant Determination Tribunals (IMDT) were there.

In March, a notice was sent by the Foreigner’s Tribunal of Assam’s Cachar district to a deceased, where he was asked to appear by March 30 as he failed to submit valid documents to prove his citizenship. The notice was issued to Shyaman Charan Das, who was a resident of Thaligram village in the Udharbond area. He died back in May 2016.

In 2015, a case was filed against him but after his death, his family submitted the death certificate after which the case was put to a stop in September that year.

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