Nepal woman missing since 2018, found in Assam jail

Updated on Jan 23, 2023 08:53 PM IST

Jannat Khatun, 62, a person with mental illness, was arrested from an area near the India-Bangladesh border in Assam’s Cachar district in November 2018, from there she was sent to Silchar central jail and post-trial, the district-level court announced a two-year sentence for her which ended in 2020.

According to the jail authorities, Jannat Khatun is presently admitted to Silchar Medical College and Hospitals (SMCH) in a critical health condition (HT Photo)
According to the jail authorities, Jannat Khatun is presently admitted to Silchar Medical College and Hospitals (SMCH) in a critical health condition (HT Photo)
ByBiswa Kalyan Purkayastha

A Nepalese man from the Lakshmipur region of Sarlahi district, adjacent to Bihar, reached Assam with other members of the family after learning from a Nepal-based NGO that his mother was being held in the foreigners detention centre in Assam’s Silchar since 2018.

The 62-year-old woman with mental illness, was detained near the India-Bangladesh border in Assam’s Cachar district in November 2018, from there she was taken to Silchar central jail and post-trial, the district-level court announced a two-year sentence for her which ended in 2020.

“She served two years of imprisonment under the Passports Act, 1967 for entering Indian territory without valid documents. Her term ended in 2020 and she is eligible for deportation since then,” said Silchar central jail superintendent Sudip Banerjee. However, he said they have written to the concerned authorities, but she can only be released after the state home department issues an official order.

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The woman’s son said that her mother received a head injury due to an accident in 2018 and one day she went missing.

He informed that a few months ago, ‘Outreach NGO’ in Nepal contacted them and informed them about her being in jail in Assam. “Since then, we have been trying to bring her back,” said the woman’s son.

He informed that they contacted the jail authorities in Assam and the officials instructed them to come with proper documents after which they reached Silchar on January 9. However, “we have not yet been informed about her release,” he said.

According to the jail authorities, the woman is presently admitted to Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH) in a critical condition.

“The doctors here saying that she is suffering from tuberculosis and having blood deficiency,” the woman’s son said.

After learning that she was being held in a jail in Assam following her detention near the border, a Silchar-based human rights organisation Citizens Rights Protection Committee (CRPC), wrote a letter to the Consulate General of Nepal in Kolkata in September last year about the incident.

Following the letter, the All India Organisation for Human Rights Awareness & Protection of Kolkata staged a protest in front of the Consulate General office against the imprisonment of the woman.

Sadhan Purkayastha from CRPC said after so many protests and letters, her family members received assurance that if they come to Silchar with proper documents, she will be released.

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“She is ill and admitted to a hospital. The government should not delay the process so much that the family returns home with her dead body, instead,” Purkayastha said.

Khatun’s son-in-law, who is also in Silchar, said that the jail authorities told them that there is miscommunication from Nepal’s side.

“They called us and now officers are saying that the matter would be taken up by the Indian government. We are not sure how we will take her back if the process gets delayed further,” he told HT on Monday.

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