Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Brother-sister duo declared Indians after 17 years by Foreigners Tribunal in Assam

Siblings Bimal Das and Suma Das, natives of Assam’s Karimganj district, were declared Indian citizens after 17 years since a Foreigners Tribunal termed them immigrants who illegally entered India.

Their advocate, Brajaballav Goswami, claimed that their 65-year-old father, Nilmani Das, experienced the same issues and was only identified as Indian by Karimganj FT on August 8, 2021.

Goswami told IANS on Wednesday that the citizenship of all three members of the family were questioned in 2006 after the border police labeled them as “doubtful citizens” in their monthly report.

“Separate cases were registered against them under Illegal Migrants Determination of Tribunals (IMDT) Act, 1983 but when the act was later scrapped at the Supreme Court, their cases were sent to Foreigners’ Tribunal,” he said.

He claimed that despite the tribunal hearing their cases repeatedly, the family members never received a notice.

“They were ruled to be illegal migrants from Bangladesh in an ex-parte ruling in 2011. But they were never taken into custody,” Goswami said.

Their names continued to show in voter lists for a few more years, but in 2019, they were removed, and upon further investigation, they discovered that they had been classified as foreign nationals.

According to Bimal Das, they were told to acquire legal representation or face arrest at any moment. “We went to the FT with a lawyer and contested the case. After we presented our documentation, the tribunal recognised us as Indians. We can breathe a sigh of relief,” he said.

Goswami mentioned that they first contested the 2011 ex-parte ruling, which was annulled in March of this year. Afterwards, they presented Nilmani Das’s refugee registration card together with a few other documents. The validity of the documents was determined during the cross-examination during the hearing.

“The tribunal declared them to be Indians after becoming persuaded by the documentation we provided,” the advocate stated.

According to him, Nilmani Das’s order copy was also extremely important in the case of Suma and Bimal.

“We established the relation between Nilmani Das and his son and daughter after the same tribunal pronounced him to be Indian. That strengthened our claim,” Goswami remarked.

Meanwhile, Suma Das told IANS: “We are poor people; we didn’t know that FT called us illegal migrants. Our ancestors were Indians, and we are native to this land. We were denied the opportunity to present our case. But in the end, justice was served, and maybe this marks the end of our fight for citizenship.”

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