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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

To end impasse, Assam CM offers legal help to family of foreigner who died in detention

At a meeting with the All Assam Bengali Youth Students Federation, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also promised review of cases where genuine Indian citizens have been declared foreigners.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2019 09:41 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has offered legal help to the family of a man who was declared a foreigner and who died at the Guwahati Medical College on October 13. His family has refused to accept his body until he is declared an Indian.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has offered legal help to the family of a man who was declared a foreigner and who died at the Guwahati Medical College on October 13. His family has refused to accept his body until he is declared an Indian. (HT FILE PHOTO)
         

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, in a bid to end the impasse over the refusal of the family of a 65-year-old man which has refused to accept his body until he is declared an Indian, has offered legal help to them, a senior cabinet minister said late Saturday.

The CM’s assurance came at a meeting with the All Assam Bengali Youth Students Federation (AABYSF) .

“The representatives of the AABYSF met the Chief Minister on the issue of Dulal Chandra Paul. The chief minister told them that he was declared a foreigner by a foreigners’ tribunal and the High Court upheld the order. It is not possible for the state government to declare him an Indian. But the state government counsel will help them in the Supreme Court if they move an application,” said Parimal Suklabaidya, cabinet minister for Fishery, Excise, Environment and Forests.

Sonowal also promised to visit the Paul household after the cremation, Suklabaidya said.

Pradip Dey, one of the AABYSF representatives said it is up to the family to decide if they will agree to cremate the body. Sadhan Paul, Dulal’s nephew also said a decision will be taken only on Sunday.

Paul, who was lodged in the detention centre at the Tezpur Central Jail, died at Guwahati Medical College and Hospital on October 13 where he was being treated.

His family which lives in Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur has refused to take the dead body demanding that he be declared an Indian first or his dead body be sent to Bangladesh as the foreigners’ tribunal has declared him from the neighbouring country in 2017. The dead body has been in the morgue since Sunday.

Suklabaidya said chief minister Sonowal has also promised an assessment of cases where people who claim to have legitimate documents have been declared as foreigners and promised help to them.

Paul is said to be the 26th foreigner to have died while being lodged in a detention centre amid concerns of poor health facilities.

“The medical board to take care of health needs of the people in detention already exists. But the provisions for better health care will be further strengthened,” said Ashutosh Agnihotri, Commissioner and Secretary, Home and Political Department, who was also part of the meeting. He also said that the government will look after all genuine concerns.

Pradip Dey of the AABYSF from Sonitpur said the CM also promised to fast track release of those who have spent three years or more in detention, as ordered by the Supreme Court earlier in May.

According to officials out of the more than 300 who are eligible for release only less than 20 have been released so far.

In July, Assam’s Home and Political department, notified the conditions for release which included two sureties of Rs 1,00,000 each, a verifiable address, collection of their bio-metric information including all ten fingerprints and iris, if possible, and photos which shall be captured and kept in a secured database.

Those released must report to a police station every week. Those who violate the conditions will be apprehended and detained, the notification said.

Agnihotri said the state government will offer help to people in terms of creating general awareness and helping them in overcoming impediments in terms of fulfilling the conditions set for the release.

“They will have to fulfill the conditions,” said Agnihotri adding that the office of the Special Director General of Police, Border Organisation is scrutinizing the proposals of release.