A letter offering a donation of over Rs 60,000 for COVID-19 relief work, with names of 12 members of Assam’s Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs) listed as contributors, has specified that the money should not be used for providing relief to those who attended the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi, “jihadis” and “jahil”.
The letter, dated April 7, is addressed to state Health and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and is signed by Kamalesh Kumar Gupta, member of an FT in Baksa district.
When contacted, Gupta, a former advocate and notary, confirmed to The Sunday Express that he had written the letter but said he has withdrawn it and that it was not sent to the government. On its contents, he said, “Whatever is there in the letter. I do not want to discuss further.”
“Our only prayer is that the help may not be extended to the members of violators Tablighi Jamaat, Jihadi and Jahil. Kindly accept our donations as above for saving the humanity from the clutches of COVID-19 pandemic infection.” it read.
FTs are quasi-judicial bodies that sit in judgment on whether a person is an ‘illegal foreigner’ or not as per the Foreigners Act, 1946. The over 19 lakh people excluded in the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) published last year will also appear before FTs to file their appeal for inclusion once they get their rejection orders. Their citizenship status will be decided by FT members.
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Pompa Chakravarty, one of the 12 contributors mentioned in the letter, had declared Mohammad Sanaullah, who retired as an Indian Army subedar after 30 years of service, a ‘foreigner’ last year. Sanaullah was put in a detention centre, and later granted bail by the Gauhati High Court. Sanaullah’s appeal against the FT order is pending in the court.
The letter on the COVID donation was published by a local daily on Saturday, after which it started doing the rounds on social media. Response from government officials is awaited on whether they received the letter.
A member who is listed as among the 12 contributors told The Indian Express on condition of anonymity that the members had decided to contribute a day’s salary towards COVID-19 relief. He said Gupta did not share the letter with them. “It was only after the controversy broke out that he accepted writing the letter. It does not reflect our views,” he said.
Another of the 12 contributors, however, said the letter was withdrawn after some members raised objections. He said the document was internally discussed and then discarded.
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