Chandradhar Das, 102 year old, frail, barely able to speak, and a resident of Borai Basti under Dholai constituency in the Amarghat area, was declared a foreigner by an ex parte judgement of the tribunal when he could not appear before the court due to his frail health.
Chandradhar was put in the detention camp on 31 March after he failed to appear before the tribunal court and furnish the required documents to probe his Indian citizenship. However, his family claims Chandradhar had the necessary documents – including a 1966 citizenship card.
The old man spent three months in the detention camp inside Silchar Central Jail Before being moved to Silchar Medical College owing to his deteriorating health. Though he was later granted bail on humanitarian grounds, Chandradhar was asked to appear before a tribunal court at least “six to seven times’, said Niyoti. Miserable condition of roads make the 40 km journey to the court more arduous for the old man and his family.
Chandradhar’s daughter feels it is inhumane to call an ailing old man repeatedly. “In FT-6 where the case is underway, there is no government lawyer. The member (judge) keeps taking leaves and as a result, we suffer. My father is not healthy enough to travel 80 kilometers twice a month or more. We are not financially strong enough to book a car for him every time. So we, have to resort to public transport to reach the court in Silchar,” she says explaining their ordeal.
Several Barak valley based organisation – including Unconditional Citizenship Demand Forum (UCDF) – came forward to support the family. “We cannot decide whether Das is an Indian or an illegal migrant. But he is a 102 year old sick man who doesn’t deserve such humiliation,” said Kamal Chakraborty, a UCDF member. He claims many from the economically weaker sections are serving imprisonment in such detention camps across Assam after being declared ex parte foreigner as they cannot hire lawyers. “Some of them get legal support from government organisations but many are still left out. Unfortunately, our system shows less humanity towards the suspected and declared foreigners.”