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Allegedly worried over his citizenship status, man commits suicide in Assam

Police said they are investigating an allegation by the victim’s family that officials of the local foreigners’ tribunal demanded money to settle his case.

india Updated: Oct 28, 2018 19:01 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
A security personnel walks past as people whose names were left out in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft stand to collect forms to file appeals near a NRC centre on the outskirts of Guwahati in Assam. (AP FILE PHOTO)

A man committed suicide in Assam on Sunday allegedly depressed after a recent notice by a foreigner’s tribunal to prove his citizenship, police said.

Police said they are investigating an allegation by the family that officials of the local foreigners’ tribunal demanded money to settle the victim’s case.

Deepak Debnath was found dead on Sunday in the backyard of his residence in Ghagra village of Udalguri in Bodo Territorial Administrative Districts, according to police.

“The case was reported to us on Sunday morning,” said Rajveer, superintendent of police, Udalguri.

49-year-old Debnath worked as a bicycle mechanic. “No suicide note was found on him,” Rajveer said.

However, according to police, the family of the victim said he was upset after he received a notice from the foreigners’ tribunal in Udalguri that he was a suspected foreigner and will have to prove his citizenship.

Das’s name was part of the complete draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on July 30, the police said.

“His family has made an allegation that the officials of the Udalguri Foreigners Tribunal demanded a bribe to settle the case,” Rajveer said, adding the matter will be probed after an FIR is registered in the case.

According to the Supreme Court order, doubtful voters and those whose cases are pending with the foreigners’ tribunals are to be kept on hold and not to be included in the NRC till their cases are decided by the tribunals. There are 100 such tribunals which function in the state.

In the absence of a centralised database of those who have been declared as foreigners and those whose cases are pending with tribunals, there have been several instances of names figuring in the draft NRC even as others who have been declared as Indian citizens left out.

On October 21, 70-year-old Nirod Baran Das, a retired government teacher who started practicing as a lawyer, ended his life in Kharupteiya of neighbouring Darrang district allegedly depressed after his name was excluded from the NRC. The NRC authorities, responding to his query over exclusion, told him he was a declared foreigner.

Das had never received a notice from any foreigners tribunal to prove his citizenship. A top NRC official said it is possible that someone with the same name figured in the list of declared foreigners and that may have led to confusion.

First Published: Oct 28, 2018 18:16 IST