A 60-year-old man, who was fighting a legal battle to prove his citizenship before a Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) in Assam, died by suicide Tuesday in Morigaon district.
Manik Das, a dry fish seller and resident of Borkhal village, was defending his case before an FT since December 2019, despite his name appearing in the National Register for Citizens (NRC) that was published a few months before that.
Das’s family alleged that he was going through “mental trauma” because of the ongoing case. “All our names, including my father’s, featured in the NRC, but he received the notice in December 2019, saying that he had to prove his citizenship,” his son Kartik Das told The Indian Express.
He added: “My father would appear for all his hearings on time, but the entire process used to take a toll on him, especially because of the financial losses. Manik had been selling dry fish at the weekly market in his village, located close to Jagiroad.
Kartik further said that the family would “get by okay”, but after the case, financial troubles increased, with Das having to spend more than a lakh on the proceedings. The son added that his father would discuss his plight with everyone in the village.
“All his documents were in order… but he would often worry and ask, ‘how will I survive?’ We all knew he was affected by this but never expected him to take such a step. All of us were shocked,” said 35-year-old Kartik, who is a carpenter.
Das’s legal counsel Deepak Biswas said that he had all identity documents, such as PAN card, Aadhaar card, as well as land records. “He had the requisite documents linked to his mother. The other documents were in order and he would appear in time for all his hearings. The last hearing was about a month ago, where we submitted our reply to the tribunal, and in the next, we were supposed to produce witnesses,” said Biswas. He added that it was likely that they would have been able to prove his citizenship before the Tribunal.
According to news agency PTI, Das was missing since Sunday and his body was found near his house on Tuesday evening. The police have said that it is prima facie, a case of suicide.