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‘Assam Cong seeks citizenship for foreigners’

| | Guwahati | in Sunday Pioneer

Slamming the ruling BJP-led Government in Assam, the Opposition Congress in Assam has appealed the State Government to take immediate measures for ensuring that the detainees — lodged in different detentions camps across Assam after being declared foreigners — get appropriate opportunity to prove their citizenship.

Former Minister and Congress spokesman Pradyut Bordoloi said this during a Press conference on Saturday and said that it is also the responsibility of the State Government to ensure that there is no human rights violation with the detainees, a majority of whom are poor and illiterate.

“Most of the time it has been found that these poor and illiterate persons were not aware of the fact that they had to physically appear before the foreigner tribunals on time when they were summoned. As a result they were declared foreigners. There are allegations that these people are then dragged to detention camps. Recent incidents like 102-year old Chandradhar Das and Anna Bala Ray are really unfortunate and painful,” Bordoloi said.

It may be mentioned here that Chandradhar Das, a resident of Borai Basti in Karimganj district who suffers from multiple old age ailments, had to spend almost three months in Silchar detention camp before he was released on bail recently after various organizations in Barak valley make a fervent plea about his health condition. Das was given the opportunity by the tribunal to submit his documents related to citizenship.

Similarly another 50-year old, Anna Bala Ray, hailing from Purba Engakarabari village in Chirang district, was dragged from her residents by police and lodged in detention camp in Kokrajhar on June 23. Anna Bala was also released on bail on Thursday after her family petitioned the tribunal to give the opportunity to prove her citizenship.

“There is a need for providing legal aids to the detainees so that they can prove their citizenship. Government should take appropriate measures to help the detainees. There is also the need to improve the facilities inside the detention camps especially in those where women detainees are kept,” Borodoloi said.There are six detention camps with an estimated 1,000 detainees kept there after being declared foreigners.

NHRC Mission to Assam’s Detention Centres report by civil rights activist Harsh Mandar pointed out that there is hardly any distinction between detention centers and jails and between detainees and ordinary inmates as there is “no clear legal regime governing the rights and entitlements of detainees”.

“The Mission found that the fate of an overwhelming majority of persons who were deemed to be foreigners and were detained in detention camps was on the basis of ex-parte orders by the Tribunals; moreover most lacked any kind of legal representation,” the report said.




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