Declare him Indian, says family of man pronounced foreigner who died in Assam
Family members of a 65-year-old man who was declared foreigner and died at a hospital in Guwahati on Sunday have refused to accept his body till authorities pronounce him an Indian.
Dulal Chandra Paul, a resident of Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district, who was declared foreigner by a tribunal two years ago and was lodged in a detention camp in Tezpur had died at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) on Sunday.
“How can we accept the body if he is a foreigner? Despite him having legal documents showing he was an Indian, he was declared a foreigner,” the deceased’s nephew Sadhan Paul said on phone.
On Tuesday, officials from Tezpur jail, the detention centre where Paul was lodged, came to his house in Dhekiajuli and asked his family members to sign documents so that the body can be handed over for last rites.
“They brought a form where my uncle’s name was written and mentioned as foreigner, but the space for address was left vacant. The officials wanted family members to sign as witness so that we can claim the body,” said Sadhan.
“We asked the officials to include his address otherwise how can we know that he is an Indian. But they asked us to sign first, hence we refused,” he added.
Paul’s body has been lying at the morgue in GMCH since Sunday and efforts by authorities to hand over the body to the family have failed.
According to family members, Paul, who reportedly had some mental illness even before he was in detention, was sent to Tezpur Medical College Hospital on September 27. From there he was referred to GMCH where he died due to diabetes and kidney ailments.
Paul is said to be the 26th foreigner to have died in the six detention centres in Assam, which house around 1000 inmates. As per a Supreme Court order, those who have spent over 3 years in these centres are to be released.
None of Paul’s three sons were included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) which was released on August 31 this year. They would have to file appeals, like the 1.9 million applicants left out of NRC, to prove that they are Indians.