Assam tribunal asks BJP legislator to prove citizenship

If the tribunal declares Kishor Nath a foreigner, he may be apprehended by the local police and could even end up in a detention camp.

india Updated: May 18, 2018 23:07 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Assam Foreigners Tribunal,BJP MLA,Citizenship
In Assam, according to some estimates, there are over 90,000 declared foreigners, out of which around 1,000 are housed in the six makeshift detention camps set up in the district jails. (AP File Photo/Representative image)

In Assam, even elected representatives are under the scanner for being suspected ‘foreigners’. In a bizarre incident, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA received a notice from one of the foreigners tribunals in the state to come and prove that he is an Indian citizen.

“I am surprised that they have asked me to come and appear,” says Kishor Nath, the BJP MLA from Barkhola, a constituency in Cachar district.

Two days ago, according to Nath, a notice from the Cachar Foreigners Tribunal landed at his residence. The notice says Nath, his wife, four brothers and wife of one of the brothers to appear before the tribunal in June.

“We have been here for at least three generations,” says the legislator. “We also own ancestral land in Doodhpatil part 5 village.”

Nath says the family has all the documents and legal papers to establish they are Indian citizens. “My name was there in the National Register of Citizens draft, which was published on January 1,” says Nath, explaining how the family’s names appearing in the NRC (meaning they are genuine citizens) could have been possible only if the authorities were satisfied with their documents.

For the BJP MLA who won the 2016 assembly polls by just 42 votes, this incident is an eye-opener of sorts. “Every other day I would have people coming to me with complaints on how they are getting notices from the tribunals to come and prove they are Indians,” he says. “Imagine the difficulty a poor person with no means must have had to go through when he gets such a notice,” he says.

If the Foreigners Tribunal declares Nath a foreigner, he could be apprehended by the local police and even end up in a detention camp. In Assam, according to some estimates, there are over 90,000 declared foreigners, out of which around 1,000 are housed in the six makeshift detention camps set up in the district jails.

There have also been reports of local authorities marking people as suspected foreigners without proper verification and subjecting them to harassment. In 2017, the tribunal in Barpeta had asked Mahiruddin Ahmed, a retired Indian Army havildar to come and prove his is not a foreigner.

First Published: May 18, 2018 23:05 IST