Mazibur Rahman, around 50 years old and a serving personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF) posted in Punjab, was declared a ‘foreigner’ by a Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) in Assam in December last year. However, his family got to know of the development only earlier this week during a hearing regarding inclusion of names in the updated NRC.
In 2008, Rahman’s name was referred to the FT based on a report by the local electoral registration officer which was then checked by the Superintendent of the Assam Police Border Wing.
The order by an FT in Golaghat district dated December 21, 2018 named Rahman and his wife Jargina Begum as foreigners along with 26 others in an ex parte order. As per rules, a “declared foreigner” and his/her descendants will not be included in the NRC, which will be published on August 31.
Section 9 of the Foreigners Act says that “the onus of proving that such person is not a foreigner or is not a foreigner of such particular class or description, as the case may be, shall, not withstanding anything contained in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, lie upon such person”. FT members can proceed ex parte if the accused do not appear for hearings.
The order by NN Jha said that despite being given reasonable opportunities, Rahman and the others failed to be present for hearings and file their statements. “Having no alternative, I therefore constrained to take up these cases for passing the same order ex parte,” he wrote.
A relative of Rahman said that he had joined the BSF in 1987-88. “The family was made aware of him and his wife being declared as foreigner during an NRC hearing.”
The family has planned to approach Gauhati High Court next week. Rahman could not be reached for comment.