KALAIGAON/TANGLA: Bhaben Das, a 45-year-old daily wage earner, allegedly committed suicide near a tea garden at Bholabari under Kalaigaon PS in Udalguri district on Sunday night. Speculations about his suicide – allegedly due to the fear of being declared a 'foreigner' and repeated serving of National Register of Citizens (NRC) notice – is rife in this small town.
"He had been running from pillar-to-post to prove his citizenship and was under acute mental trauma after being served with repeated notices," alleged Das' mother. He is survived by his mother, wife and a child. Ever since Das' death, a subtle anxiety has gripped the town of Kalaigaon, a two hour's drive from State capital Guwahati. Some local community members have also hinted that anti-Bengali sentiments have flared up, and Das' suicide is an example of how arbitrarily Bengali Hindu names are being excluded from the NRC. The death of the sole breadwinner of the family has sparked a flurry of visits almost from all quarters, including student organizations like All BTC Bengali Youth Students' Federation (ABBYSF), All Assam Bengali Youth Students' Federation (AABYSF) and the media persons.
But the family, according to community members, still awaits a visit from Mangaldai MP Ramen Deka. Adviser of the All BTC Bengali Youth Students' Federation (ABBYSF), Shyamal Sarkar alleged that the NRC update process and D-voter notices have been a nightmare for many genuine citizens of the State, mostly genuine Bengali Hindus. He further alleged that the State government had hatched a political conspiracy against the Bengali Hindus and saffron party's commitment to grant citizenship to Bengali Hindus was just for vote-bank politics.
"If the BJP was genuinely concerned about passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 they could have brought the law by promulgating ordinance by the President," said Sarkar. "The CAB is just a political gimmick to woo the Bengali Hindus and garner their votes," he added. He also echoed the views of the locals that Mangaldai Lok Sabha MP and veteran BJP leader Ramen Deka had never ever visited the bereaved family members of people who allegedly committed suicide due to NRC-related issues.
Even as civil society members and the public blame exclusion from NRC for Das' death, Superintendent of Police of Udalguri, Longnit Terang told The Sentinel that the victim had sufficient documents to prove his citizenship and prima-facie it did not appear that the cause of suicide was due to the NRC."
Another local community leader told this correspondent, "The person's suicide is not apparently due to NRC as he had all the sufficient documents but it is true that he was being repeatedly served notices from NRC." President of Tangla Human Rights Forum, a local NGO, Sailen Kumar Sharma said, "Every developing nation has policies regarding detection and deportation of illegal immigrants and grant of citizenship." Expressing concern over the plight of doubtful citizens, Sharma said, "The government should draft policies for rehabilitation of illegal immigrants and grant them special status for working and living as dignified humans as even their human rights cannot be violated by making them languish in detention camps."
Also read: Assam news