The Gauhati High Court has granted bail to a Hindi-speaking man and his wife, currently lodged in separate detention camps for declared foreigners, so that they can attend the final rites of the man’s mother. Dinesh Prajapati (41) and his wife Tara Devi (38) are from Pakhorijan Gaon of Tinsukia district. Their ancestors had migrated from Uttar Pradesh to Assam.
The last rites of Dinesh’s mother Chotki Devi, who died on August 16, are to be held on Friday and the family had filed a plea in the high court, seeking bail for the couple. The lawyer representing them in the high court told The Indian Express that the couple was granted interim conditional bail till September 9. On September 10, they will have to surrender themselves to the Border wing of Assam police in Tinsukia.
“I have heard they will come out for a few days, but will be taken back to the detention camps. I don’t know what to say. I am worried. At least they will attend the shradh ceremony of my grandmother,” said Dhiraj Prajapati, the couple’s 18-year-old son and the eldest of their five children. Dhiraj left studies after Class VIII and is now looking for work. Dinesh, a farmer, and Tara, a homemaker, were served notices in November 2002 by a Foreigners Tribunal following a reference by the Border wing of state police.
In 2003, they were declared ‘foreigners’. As per rules, they had to register themselves at Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO). The couple did not get registered within the specified time of two months, the lawyer explained. On May 15 this year, they were put into detention camps — Dinesh in Dibrugarh and Tara in Jorhat, over 130 km apart.
Separate appeals against the tribunal’s order is pending before the high court while, as per the rules, the whole seven-member family is out of the recently released final draft of National Register of Citizens.
According to the oldest available documents with the family, Dinesh’s father Parashuram is said to have migrated from UP to Assam in the 1970s as an agricultural worker and his name was in the voters’ list of 1968. The name of Tara’s father was in the voters’ list of 1966. The family also shows documents that prove that Prajapatis have been living in Baliya of UP for generations. All Assam Bhojpuri Parishad president Kailash Gupta said, “How can Hindi-speaking people be doubtful citizens of India or declared foreigners?”