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D-voter tag continues to haunt Bengali Hindus in Udalguri

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A Correspondent

TANGLA, July 2: Even as Assam awaits the much-hyped final draft of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC), the fear and apprehension of genuine Bengali Hindu citizens of the State of being labelled as D-voters and being served notice from the Foreigners Tribunal to prove citizenship, haunts the lower middle-class people of the Bengali Hindu community living from hand-to-mouth. The authorities concerned in Assam assigned to detect and deport illegal immigrants, mostly Bangladeshis, seems to be on a zippy when it comes to serving notices to D-voters to prove their citizenship. The tale of a family of Nichilamari village near Khoirabari under Tangla PS in Udalguri is bound to raise doubts on the working of the entire government machinery involved in tracking the so-called D-voters.

Can one imagine the ordeal of a poverty-stricken genuine Indian family which lost its kin for the detrimental policies of the government? The family members of Gopal Das, a sexagenarian, have been repeatedly harassed to prove their citizenship. While his elder son Narayan Das (32) was the first to get a notice from Foreigners Tribunal, Mangaldai, way back in December 2, 2007, his wife Joymoti Das (53) received similar notice on November 29, 2008 from the Foreigners Tribunal, Mangaldai. This time it was his second son Ganesh Das (35) who received similar notice on May 6, 2013 from the Foreigners Tribunal, Mangaldai. These family members, despite having their names in the voter electoral roll of 1965, had to run from pillar to post and had to spend a lot of money for legal aid to be declared as Indian citizens. The harassment did not end here. Gopal Das was served notice from the Foreigners Tribunal, Udalguri on November, 2017 to prove his citizenship. The sole bread winner of the family, Gopal Das is facing acute mental trauma to prove his citizenship. He had reportedly spent nearly Rs.15,000 for lawyer’s fee. The fear and apprehension that his name would not figure in the final draft of NRC frustrated the sexagenarian to the core. Purportedly under acute pressure he allegedly committed suicide near his residence at Nislamari village on June 11 midnight. Das, a daily wage earner, allegedly consumed poison and ended his life leaving his family members.

The incident has invited the wrath of locals who gathered in large numbers and raised slogans against the government. Talking to The Sentinel, Joymoti Das expressed her resentment for being the victim of the so-called investigation of the Election Commission which arbitrarily accuses and harasses the families of ‘doubtful voters’. On the condition of anonymity, a Guwahati-based scribe said investigation agencies had their own compulsion. They have to fulfil the targets of the government and arbitrarily serve notices to people so as to appease the collective conscience of the majority. President of the All Assam Bengali Youth Students Federation (AABYSF), Kamal Chaudhary alleged that the border police had been harassing the genuine Koch-Rajbongshi, Bengali and religious minority community.

“Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal should intervene or the State government’s utter failure in safeguarding the interest of genuine citizens will be exposed,” Chaudhary added.