Declared an Indian in ’17, Assam cop again listed as doubtful voter

The ‘D voter’ tag means Bhuyan will again have to wait till his case comes up in the Foreigners Tribunal where he will have to prove that he is an Indian citizen and not an illegal immigrant.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2018 10:12 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Assam cop,Assam police,D voter
A Foreign Tribunals of Goalpara one of the 32 Tribunals of Assam where D Voters (Doubtful Voters) in Goalpara. (Subhendu Ghosh / HT Photo)

An Assam police officer’s 10-year-long struggle to prove his nationality continues even after he was declared an Indian citizen by a Foreigners Tribunal last year.

Assistant sub-inspector Shah Alam Bhuyan has again been marked as a ‘D voter’ or doubtful voter in the state’s voter list even though he was declared an Indian citizen by the tribunal in 2017. The ‘D voter’ tag means Bhuyan will again have to wait till his case comes up in the Foreigners Tribunal where he will have to prove that he is an Indian citizen and not an illegal immigrant.

The ‘D voter’ tag may spell trouble not just for Bhuyan but for his family too. In a recent order, the Supreme Court had said the inclusion of ‘D voters’ and their descendants in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be kept on hold. The deadline to release the final draft of the NRC is July 30.

There are 100 Foreigners Tribunals in Assam that adjudicate on cases of individuals whose citizenship is suspected by the border branch of the Assam police.

Bhuyan, 53, said he is a resident of Rowmari village in the state’s Barpeta district and has been working with the state police’s intelligence wing for the last 33 years. “I have worked with two chief ministers, Tarun Gogoi and Sarbananda Sonowal in their security detail,” he said.

According to Bhuyan, it was around a decade back that he first found out that had been marked as a ‘D voter’. “I had come back home to cast vote. It was then that I realised that I have been listed as a ‘D voter’ since 1997,” Bhuyan, who is currently on a medical leave as he recovering from an injury, said.

His case was taken up by the Foreigners Tribunal in 2017 and he was declared an Indian citizen. A copy of the Foreigners Tribunal’s judgement delivered on March 28 of last year states that Bhuyan is not a foreigner.

However, this year’s voter list again shows a ‘D’ marked against Bhuyan’s name, indicating that he has been listed as a doubtful voter due to concerns over his nationality.

“I do not know how this has happened. We have been living in Barpeta for so many decades. I only shifted to Rowmari, my wife’s village, because she worked here,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Barpeta police officials continued to pass the buck. “The ‘D voter’ tag is put only after an enquiry by the border police. They would know. I do not have any information,” said Thaneswar Malakar, Barpeta deputy commissioner. “Since 2017 we are using ERONet software launched by the Election Commission of India. The system of marking or removing D voter is not there. That is how his D shows against Bhuyan’s name,” Malakar said, blaming the software.

First Published: Jul 19, 2018 09:23 IST