scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Thursday, May 19, 2022

National register of citizens confusion on sibling status: IAF ex-staff among many in limbo

Guwahati-based lawyer Aman Wadud, who represents several alleged ‘foreigners’ before the high court and Foreigners’ Tribunals, says the high court order of last year “was only a suggestion to the border police and state”.

Written by Abhishek Saha | Guwahati |
June 16, 2018 4:23:48 am
On May 2, the State Coordinator of the NRC, Prateek Hajela, issued an order saying that the eligibility status of siblings and other family members of ‘declared foreigners’ would be kept “pending” till the Foreigners’ Tribunal determined their Indian citizenship. (Representational Image)

AMONG those worried about their status due to the confusion over eligibility of relatives of ‘declared foreigners’ under the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam is 48-year-old Sadullah Ahmed, an ex-serviceman of the Indian Air Force (IAF) who is currently a senior auditor with the Accountant General (Audit) office in Guwahati. One of Ahmed’s elder sisters is a ‘declared foreigner’.

On May 2, the State Coordinator of the NRC, Prateek Hajela, issued an order saying that the eligibility status of siblings and other family members of ‘declared foreigners’ would be kept “pending” till the Foreigners’ Tribunal determined their Indian citizenship.

Three weeks later, in an order dated May 25, Hajela clarified that “only after receipt of information from respective SP (Border) that reference has been made of a person to Foreigners’ Tribunals” would officials put on hold the status of their family members. Ahmed’s sister Fateman Nessa was declared a “foreigner” by a Foreigners’ Tribunal in Barpeta in 2012. The decision was upheld by the high court, but an appeal is pending before the Supreme Court.

One week ago, the Hatigaon police station summoned Ahmed to “discuss certain discrepancies regarding his inclusion in the NRC because his elder sister was declared foreigner”. On June 8, his father’s and his documents were received by border police personnel and he was asked to wait for further updates. Ahmed, who did his matriculation in 1986 and higher secondary from the prestigious Cotton College in Guwahati, belongs to Majgaon in Barpeta district. For 20 years — from February 9, 1989, to February 28, 2009 — Ahmed was employed with the IAF as an aero-engine technician. He retired after completion of his initial bond, then cleared the Staff Selection Commission to join the Accountant General’s office in 2010.

Best of Express Premium

On marital rape, regressive notions undermine autonomy of womenPremium
Inflation up, FMCG firms hike rates, cut pack volume and weightPremium
Explained: Lucknow’s Laxman connection, and a large mosque built in...Premium
‘Pigeon closes eyes as cat advances’: 1991 Lok Sabha, when Um...Premium

The NRC, which is being updated to identify illegal immigrants in Assam, was first prepared in 1951. It is now being updated to include the names of persons or their descendants who appear in the 1951 NRC or in any of the electoral rolls or in any one of the other admissible documents issued up to the midnight of March 24, 1971, which prove their presence in Assam or in any part of India on or before March 24, 1971.

The name of Ahmed’s father Mobed Ali is in the 1951 NRC, land records of 1958 and 1967, and the voter’s list of 1971. “My primary fear is that after doing so much for my country, putting in the young, bright years of my life for my country as a defence personnel, I might have to prove my citizenship — just because one of my elder sisters was arbitrarily declared a foreigner. Being a true citizen of India I am ready to follow the law of the land as the situation arises,” says Ahmed. “I love my country. In my blood runs the love of my country.”

Hajela referred to a Gauhati High Court judgment of May 2, 2017, for his May 2 order a year later. The order said once a person is declared a foreigner, it would be a “logical corollory” that “his brothers, sisters and other family members would also be foreigners”.

Activists and lawyers suggest there are thousands in the same shoes as Ahmed. Guwahati-based lawyer Aman Wadud, who represents several alleged ‘foreigners’ before the high court and Foreigners’ Tribunals, says the high court order of last year “was only a suggestion to the border police and state”.

“The court nowhere asked the NRC authorities to implement the order. It is very suspicious that exactly a year later the State Cordinator of the NRC suo motu issued a letter asking deputy commissioners of districts to implement the high court order.”

Hajela, however, says his hands are tied. “If somebody has a grievance against the 2017 High Court judgment, there has to be a legal remedy. So, as long as that judgment remains, and based on that judgment or based on any other reason if a person is referred to (a Foreigners’ Tribunal), we cannot keep that person in the NRC.”

For all the latest North East India News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement