National Register of Citizens: Assam man suffers double blow

first_imgParalysis robbed Azizul Hoque of his ability to work, before the system, members of his family said, snatched his identity as an Indian more than two years ago.They are now counting the days for the next hearing in the Supreme Court, which sought replies from the Centre and the Assam government on how the 41-year-old Hoque came to be declared a foreigner and lodged in a detention centre on March 24, 2017.Family hopefulAnas Tanwir, handling the case, said the apex court on July 3 given the Central and Assam governments two weeks to reply.“That means they have to reply by July 17, right? And we can hope for a hearing by the Supreme Court soon after,” Baharul Islam, Mr. Hoque’s elder brother, told The Hindu from their village Singiapathar in central Assam’s Nagaon district. The village is about 140 km east of Guwahati.Mr. Islam, in his late 40s, could not recall when the Assam police’s border wing sent a notice to his brother. The border wing is tasked with detecting and deporting foreigners and refers cases to a Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) for deciding a suspect’s fate.“It was 12-13 years ago. He went to the police when summoned about 10 years ago before an illness made him paralysed. He had always been a bhodai (dimwitted) and paralysis prevented him from going out to work,” said Mr. Islam, who sells vegetables in a nearby town.“I stay away from home most of the time. But Azizul and many others in my family are always at home. They said they gave him notice thrice, but none of us received it. They took him to the Tezpur Central Jail’s detention centre out of the blue,” he said.‘Doubtful’ tagThe problem for Mr. Hoque began in 1997, when for the first time his name figured in the voters’ list but with the ‘D’ (doubtful) tag that indicated he was suspected to be an illegal immigrant. None of his three elder siblings — sister Hafiza Khatun and eldest brother Khairul Islam — are D-voters.The name of Mr. Hoque, like everyone else in his family, was included in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) published in July 2018. He was put in the additional list of 1.02 lakh NRC-excluded people published on June 26.“Our father Abdur Rahman’s name is in the 1965 voters’ list. Our grandfather Pashan Ali was granted land patta (deed) in 1940. Why should our youngest brother be singled out as a foreigner? This is just harassment because of the language we speak and religion we follow,” Mr. Islam said.Members of Mr. Hoque’s family said they have promised him that he would be brought back home soon. They are pinning hopes on the Supreme Court for his release sooner.last_img

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