With 15 papers, woman fail to prove citizenship

The Asian Age.  | manoj anand

India, All India

Assam HC declares 50-year-old a foreigner.

Fifty-year-old Jabeda Begum with her daughter

Guwahati: In what is going to further the controversy on citizenship, the Gauhati high court rejected a petition of a 50-year-old woman declared foreigner by a tribunal in Assam, saying that land revenue paying receipts, permanent account number (PAN) card and bank documents don’t prove citizenship.

The bench of Justices Manojit Bhuyan and Parthivjyoti Saikia also dismissed the petition of Jabeda Begum as she “failed to prove her linkage with her projected parents and her projected brother”.

It is significant that to prove citizenship for inclusion in NRC applicants had to submit any one of the 14 documents issued before March 24, 1971 which had either their names or names of their ancestor to prove residence in Assam up to that date.

These documents are 1951 NRC, electoral rolls till March 24, 1971, land and tenancy records, citizenship certificate, permanent resident certificate, refugee registration certificate, passport, insurance policy, government issued license or certificate, proof of employment, bank or post office accounts, birth certificate, education certificates or documents of court records or processes.

The woman who hails from Goyabari village in Western Assam’s Baksa district was declared a foreigner by the Foreigners Tribunal in 2018.  The woman who sold her land to contest her claim in the high court is now left with only option to approach the Supreme Court. The HC, citing one of its previous orders — declared that the papers she submitted were not conclusive proof of citizenship.

At the foreigners tribunal, Jabeda claimed to have submitted 15 documents, including the voter lists of 1966, 1970, 1971 of her father Jabed Ali. The tribunal, however, ruled that she has produced no satisfactory linkage proof with her father. The high court also justified the ruling of the tribunal as woman failed to prove her linkage with father.

The family had also failed to get their name in the National Register of Citizens which was published in 2019. They could not vote also as both husband and wife were marked “doubtful voters” in the voters list.

The doubtful voter is a category of voters in Assam whose citizenship credential were questioned during the identification and deportation of foreigners earlier. The D-voters were asked to prove their citizenship before the foreigners tribunal.

In absence of a birth certificate, she had submitted a certificate from her village headman that named her parents and place of birth. It was not accepted by the tribunal as well as the court.

Jabeda Begum, disappointed with Gauhati HC, said, “I spent whatever I had. Now I am left with no more resources for legal battle.” She is the only earning member of her family. Her husband Rejak Ali has been ailing for long. The couple had three daughters, one of whom died in an accident and another one went missing. The youngest, Asmina, is a student of Class 5.