Assam: Woman, whose son died after citizenship summons, declared Indian
Akol Rani Namasudhra, 82, faced years of misery and strife after her son died by suicide in 2013 as the family was asked to prove their citizenship. Nine years on, she has now been officially proclaimed "Indian" on Wednesday. Her family is celebrating the "very happy occasion," but they are yet to inform Namasudhra about it.
Why does this story matter?
In Assam, a person must have documentation to prove that they or their ancestors lived in the state before 1971. The criteria are in accordance with the Assam Accord of 1985. National Register of Citizens (NRC) of the state was also applied in 2019. Notably, Namasudra's son was specifically mentioned by then-BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi during a rally in Assam's Cachar district.
Happiest moment for the family
Anjali Roy, Namasudra's daughter, who acquired her Indian citizenship in 2015, said it was the family's happiest moment. She did say, though, that Namasudra is unaware of her status as an Indian. "We will break the news to my mother in the morning...we went through a lot because of this case," she told Indian Express.
What does the Foreigners Tribunal rule?
The Foreigners Tribunal (FT) of the Cachar district recently decided that Namasudra was "not a foreigner." It said she had proven her case effectively by providing credible and admissible evidence including the voter lists. Namasudra, a native of Haritikar village, was summoned many times by the tribunal. The case was filed in 2000 alleging that she had "illegally" entered India after March 25, 1971.
Family's troubles began in 2012
The family's problems began in 2012 when they received summons from the tribunal to prove their citizenship. Namasudra claims her son Arjun killed himself after being disturbed by the summons. "I can't call myself 'pagol' but I am no less than that," she had told HT. "I don't know why we have to prove again and again that we are Indians," she added.
Special mention by Narendra Modi in 2014 elections
Namasudra's son found a special mention in the address of then-BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who had expressed pain over the death. "In the name of detention camps, the Assam government (of the Congress) violated human rights. Arjun's death was not in vain. He had died for the rights of the lakhs who are inside detention camps in Assam," Modi had said.
Assam's citizenship dilemma
Citizenship has always been a controversial topic in Assam. Some local organizations have even claimed that the shift will allow "illegal migrants" to enter the state. Later, the Supreme Court ordered that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) be updated, which was completed in August 2019. The BJP-led Centre amended the country's citizenship requirements the same year, much to the chagrin of the Assamese.