D-Voters and Declared Foreigners

Back from a Living Hell

Jyotirmay Jana

[The 1760s saw the publication of a four-volume book on law from the Clarendon Press in Britain. It was Commentaries on the Laws of England by William Blackstone. It attempted to give legitimacy to the age-old Italian proverb that no innocent should ever suffer, even though the guilty may escape. He wrote, "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer". What Blackstone wrote was in fact a confirmation of what Voltaire had said in 1748 in his book Zadig : " is better to run the risk of sparing the guilty than to condemn the innocent". In 1868, John Stuart Mill also supported this principle in an address to the British parliament.]

The Election Commission of India introduced the D-voter system in Assam in 1997. Assam was the only state where this system was introduced. It is known that over one lakh twenty thousand persons have been kept deprived of their franchise on the suspicion that they are foreigners. This goes against the principle enshrined in Voltaire's Zadig and Blackstone's Commentaries. Again, over ninety-two thousand people of this state have been declared foreigners by Foreigners Tribunals. A huge section of them has got this label by ex-parte hearing. About two thousand people have been in detention camps for month after month and year after year. One will be at the height of blunder to think that they are all foreigners, i. e. intruders into Assam after 24 March 1971 midnight. On the contrary, almost all those who could afford to put up a good fight in the courts of law have proved that they are genuine Indians. It has been seen that most of those who have been justly agitating against Citizenship Amendment Bill and demanding implementation of the Assam Accord in letter and spirit have been either silent on or very feebly vocal against the gross violation of human rights by the state-controlled machinery.

D-voter is a species unheard of in any part of India except Assam. Last year Deben Bhattacharya, the Secretary of the Assam State Committee of the CPI (M) submitted a memorandum to the Chief Election Officer, Assam, cataloguing the problems faced by D-voters: (i) They have been deprived of the right to vote on the mere assumption that they are not bona fide Indians. They are not given Voters' Identity Cards, which is a document necessary for distant travelling, stay in hotels, opening accounts at post offices and banks and obtaining Aadhaar Cards and sim cards to be used in mobile phones and even for having treatment in hospitals. (ii) The children of D-voters are facing a lot of problems in getting higher education, because government offices are denying them Permanent Residenctial Certificates (PRCs). Many competent persons are being denied jobs in both private and public sectors on the ground that either they or their parents are D-voters. (iii) Many persons marked as D-voters have no knowledge about the status of their citizenship. Many of them have been in a state of uncertainty about the official status of their cases for year after year. The whole process is characterised by a lamentable lack of transparency. The victims move from office to office, from pillar to post for knowing in what condition their franchise or citizenship is, but scarcely do they get any definite answer. (iv) The problem has become more acute and complicated after the publication of the final draft of the NRC. Thousands of persons do not figure on the draft on the ground that they are D-voters, though never before had they been told so. It is a mystery that many of them exercised their franchise even in 2016.

It is being widely alleged that a section of employees of the election offices gave the D-tag to some people either randomly or at their own whims, or under the influence of some mischievous people who want to derive pleasure or benefit from the harassment or pauperisation of their opponents or ethnic enemies. In an article published in Amar Asom of 2 August 2018, Devendranath Muktiar revealed how blindly and randomly people were marked as D-voters. On a certain day in 2006 he went to the District Election Office of Nagaon to meet a friend of his who was an employee there. Seeing his friend very perturbed he asked him the cause of his anguish. On enquiry, the friend revealed that he had been given a voters' list by his senior officer with the instruction that he must mark some ten persons on the list as D-voters. Muktiar looked at the voters' list on his friend's table and understood that roughly eighty percent of the names on it were of Muslims. It was not an isolated case. A Booth-Level Officer (BLO) of South Salmara told this writer on condition of anonymity that the officers engaged in the duty of training her and the other BLOs were asked to write 'yes' or 'no' against each name on the voters' lists they were given. Anticipating that the persons to be marked with 'no' would become D-voters, some BLOs did not oblige the trainers, but there were some who proved themselves instruction-abiding. It is alarming that over one lac people in Assam have been blindly and randomly rendered D-voters by employees in the election offices of the state. A person named Subrata De (39) of Krishnai in Goalpara was first made a D-voter and then, through insufficient hearing by the Foreigners Tribunal of Goalpara, was declared a foreigner. Subsequently, he was kept imprisoned in Goalpara Detention Camp where he died a mysterious death on 26 May 2018. Though the names of De's father and grandfather appeared in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) of 1951, his father's name did not appear on the voters' list of 1966. The tribunal did not tolerate this lapse for which neither Subrata nor his father Krishnapada was responsible. It further overlooked the fact that Subrata's family had time and again been displaced owing to erosion and such omissions of names are quite common in the riverine areas of Assam where people frequently get displaced and are made to move.

Halima Khatun, daughter of Abdul Kasem and Hajera Khatun of Sonaiberapam and wife of Md. Isamuddin of Patiachapori—both the places in Nagaon has been in Kokrajhar Detention Camp for long ten years. Deterred by the serious illness of her husband from making personal appearance at the Foreigners Tribunal at Dhing, she was declared a foreigner by ex-parte hearing in 2008 ignoring the fact that both of her parents are Indians. Her grand-father Abul Hussain had his name on the electoral rolls of 1965 and her father has his name on the electoral rolls of 1971. A victim of early marriage, her own name appeared on the voters' list of 1993 as the wife of Md Abbas of Dhing. The early death of Abbas led her to get married to Isamuddin of Patiachapori and a certificate from the secretary of Sonaibera Simaluati Gaon Panchayat is a proof to it. The final draft of the NRC includes the names of Halima's parents, of her elder brother Ismail, her younger brother Jainal and her three children, but not the name of Halima who has been in jail as a 'declared foreigner' since 2008. On 13 December last her husband succumbed to cancer, but she could not come home on parole even for a day or two to give company to her husband before his death. Incapable of bearing the expenses of a legal battle, her mother Hajera is demanding a DNA test for proving that Halima is her daughter. Hajera suspects the foul play of a family-enemy of theirs behind the sufferings of Halima.

There are cases in which the children are recognised as Indians but not their parents, while there are cases in which the parents are Indians but not the children. Just as the final draft of the NRC includes the names of Halima's one son (Babbul Islam) and two daughters (Hasina Begum and Sabina Sairi), but not the name of mother Halima, it includes the names of two sons (Mithu Das and Biswajit Das) and one daughter (Tumpa Das) of Ranjit Das, but not the name of Ranjit Das's own. Das, an inhabitant of No. 2 Garumara village in Samaguri Legislative Assembly Constituency (LAC), is a cultivator by profession. Never could he anticipate that his Indian citizenship might be in question, because his father Satish Das was an old inhabitant of Nagaon, who had bought plots of land at Gatanga in 1963 and at Garumara in 1972. (Das possesses those land-records.) Both the places are in the district of Nagaon. While Satish Das's name appears on the voters' lists of 1970 and 1971 of Samaguri LAC, Ranjit Das's name appears on the voters' list of 1989 as Satish Das's son. Yet Ranjit Das recieved a D-tag without his knowledge and was declared a foreigner vide ex parte hearing. On 25 May 2018 he was suddenly arrested by the border police of Nagaon and told that he was a declared foreigner. He was despatched to Tezpur Detention Camp.

Notices from tribunals are expected to be served directly on the accused. But in case of the absence of the accused, notices are being pasted on trees, shops or boundary walls of temples/mosques, or such other public places. Poor labourers who went from Dhubri to Hatigaon in Guwahati to sell their labour power were thus served notices. This is creating panic among the lower-class workingmen who have to move from place to place either to sell their labour power or to earn their bread by carrying on small trades. Many of them are being declared foreigners by ex parte hearing. Sirajul Islam, son of Ainuddin of Balikatia in Nagaon, went to Jorhat to earn his livelihood by buying and selling old newspapers, and broken things of plastic, tin, iron, aluminium etc. He had been carrying on this humble trade in the town for several years. In Jorhat, there were some other Bengali-speaking people from Nagaon and Morigaon who were earning their livelihood either by carrying on such other small trades or by selling their labour power. The language they spoke and the clothes they wore were enough for the police to conclude that they were Muslims from the land known as East Pakistan till 1971. It was unimportant for the police to enquire when their ancestors had come to Assam. The police nabbed some of them and took them to the local police station, where they took down not only their own names and original addresses but also the names and addresses of some of others who were engaged in the same kinds of profession. The names and addresses thus collected included the name and address of Sirajul also. Their names were sent to the local foreigners tribunal where they were declared foreigners by ex parte hearing. When this writer, along with two members of Manav Ekata Mancha, Assam, and Minorities Democratic Youth Federation, Assam, met some of them they alleged they were neither notified about being D-voters by the police and the tribunal nor were they infomed that they were 'declared foreigners', but they showed them a list that includes their names as 'declared forigners'. About three hundred persons under Balikatia Gaon Panchayat, who had gone to upper Assam districts like Jorhat and Mariani in search of petty occupations have been declared foreigners vide ex-parte hearing.

The case of Sirajul Islam in particular is an eye-opener. Sirajul's name appears on the voters' list of 2014 as Ainuddin's son. Again, the voters' list of 1977 includes Ainuddin's name as Sahar Ali's son. This Sahar Ali's name appears on the voters' lists of 1965 and 1971. But Sahar Ali's grandson is now a declared foreigner, anticipating imprisonment at any time.

Nazrul Islam of Balikatia went to Mariani to earn his livelihood by carrying on the same kind of trade as Sirajul carried on at Jorhat. One day, as he returned to his slum-hovel in the town, he was surprised to know that the local police had honoured their slum by a sudden visit and taken his name along with many others of his class and community. Apprehending danger, he returned to his original residence at Balikatia, where subsequently he was labelled as a D-voter. It is significant that his father had always been a voter since the attainment of his adulthood and he, along with his father Fajar Ali, had cast his vote in the Assembly Elections of 2005. His grandfather Jabed Ali had his name on the voters' lists of 1965 and 1971. The draft of the NRC includes Fajar Ali's name, but not Nazrul's, obviously because he had been whimsically blacklisted as a suspected foreigner by Mariani police. The victims of such whimsical blacklisting have to move the court at their own initiative, and poor financial means of Nazrul have not allowed him to seek legal remedy at the court of law.

Financial constraint has deterred Khairul Islam also from seeking legal remedy against his disenfranchisement at the court of law. Nor has the court or any other authority sent him any notice seeking any clarification regarding his citizenship. Son of late Samiruddin and a poor daylabourer of Balikatia, Khairul first got a D-tag in 1997; but the tag disappeared in 2008, when the panchayat elections were held and he could vote like any other regular citizen. But in the subsequent elections, he was pushed back to his previous status and debarred from voting. The electoral rolls of 1970 include the names of his parents and the complete draft NRC includes the names of his mother, wife and children. His brother Jainal, who is a regular voter, enjoys the facilities available to the BPL card-holders, but those facilities are denied to Khairul on the ground that he is a D-voter. However, his mother is a recipient of a house under Indira Awas Yojana and the rations under BPL are being given to Khairul's wife and children.

Between Balisatra and Batadrava Satra in Nagaon district, there is a village named Rampur Satra which is fully inhabited by Bengali-speaking Muslims. Nobody belonging to the Vaishnavite sect or practising the satra culture lives there. Torn by inner conflict and disputes, the satra people themselves sold the satra-land tract by tract to the Muslims of East Bengal origin, who ultimately became the inhabitants of the place. This buying and selling were held both before and after the country's independence. The Assamese people of the neighbouring villages have no suspicion about the Indianness of the Muslim settlers of Rampur Satra; but ironically indeed many people of that village have either been made D-voters or declared foreigners. Lack of political backing and economic strength are hindering most of them from putting up a strong fight against the wrong being meted out to them.

Poverty has stood as an impediment in the way of Abul Nasar's progress towards a legal battle against the D-tag he has arbitrarily been given. Son of Abdul Sattar of Rampur Satra, Nasar became a voter in 1989. But three years before the close of the millenium, i.e. in 1997, he became a D-voter. The final draft NRC includes the names of his parents; but it does not include his own name and the names of his children and grand-children. None of them can enjoy any of the facilities available to the BPL card-holders. Contrary to Khairul Islam and Abul Nasar, Abdul Malek, son of Kasam Ali of Rampur Satra in Nagaon fought legally and strenuously for nine years and got the label 'D' against his name removed in 2013. He had to spend over three lac rupees to win his legal battle; but the removal of 'D' by court's order has not been executed till the time of writing of this report. His name has not yet appeared on the voters' list nor does the complete draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) include his name and the names of his children. Though his wife, who is not a D-voter, receives some facilities available to the BPL card-holders, he and his children are deprived of those facilities. The voters' list of 1970 includes the names of Malek's parents and his grandfather, Abdul Majid, possessed land-record of 1930.

Daughter of Hasen Ali Khan and grand-daughter of Mahammad Khan of Bherbherigaon and wife of Sahabuddin of Rampurpam (attached to Rampur Satra), Anowara Begum became a D-voter in 1997 and was declared a foreigner by Foreigners Tribunal at Dhing in 2016. She was then arrested from her husband's house and sent to Tezpur Detention Camp, where she has been a prisoner till time of writing this report. It is important to note that the NRC of 1951 includes the name of her grandfather, and the voters' lists of 1984 and 1989 include the names of her father and grandfather. Disappointed by the verdict of the Foreigners Tribunal, her husband moved the Gauhati High Court which upheld the decision of the Tribunal. It is being alleged that Gauhati High Court is upholding the verdicts of the tribunals in a large number of cases and that is allegedly being done without proper scrutiny. So, her poor husband, who is a hawker by profession, has moved the Supreme Court, but he expressed that he has not yet been able to talk to his lawyer nor has he received any copy of the writ petition that has been filed seeking justice for his wife. It is being alleged that a large number of Supreme Court lawyers are getting the foreigner-related cases (and the cash for conducting them) through touts and agents, who are collecting original documents from the complainants but not giving the hapless complainants copies of the petitions they are claiming to have submitted at the Supreme Court. This is being done by many High Court lawyers also to the great detriment of the plaintiffs.

There has been discontent against most of verdicts given by the foreigners' tribunals. Again, even when the verdict is in favour of a D-voter, there is no guarantee that it will be given effect to. The case of Hasen Ali and some other cases will expose the nature of `the anarchy the poor minorities of Assam are being subjected to. Hasen Ali, son of Kasimuddin of Satra, got a D-tag in 1997 and his name was removed from the voters' list. He spent two years and fifty thousand rupees to get the tag removed through a legal battle. Was he at all responsible for financial loss, and physical and mental harassments he suffered? No. He was a victim of the ignorance and carelessness of people who prepared voters' lists. It is they who made Kasimuddin, his father, Kasuddin and Kasim in different voters' lists and Abdul Jabbar, his grandfather, Abdul in the voters' list of 1997. These 'educated' people employed by the government for the preparation of the voters' lists have caused endless sufferings for lots of poor and illiterate people of Assam. Anyway, though the Foreigners Tribunal at Dhing ordered removal of the D-tag from Hasen Ali's name on 1 June 2016, his name has not yet appeared on the voters' list, nor did it appear on the first draft of the NRC published on 31 December 2017. He, however, was delighted to see the names of his three children (viz. Rockybul Islam, Rashidul Islam, Muksida Begum) on it. The final draft of the NRC published on 30 July 2018 included not only his own name but also the names of his three children. Thus, it gave relief to only four members of his seven-member family. But by a notice dated 14 August 2018, he was informed that the names of all the members of his family were kept on 'hold' on the 'ground' that while he and his wife, Samsun Nehar, were D-voters (DVs), his three sons and two daughters were descendants of D-voters (DVDs).

It has been noticed that the 'D's whimsically put against the names of many people are not being removed in violation of the order of the tribunals for their removal. The aforesaid case of Hasen Ali exemplifies this. As another example one can cite the case of Soleman Ali of village Naskara in the district of Dhubri. A poor day labourer, Soleman came to know that he had been made a D-voter as he entered his nearby polling booth for exercising his franchise in the assembly elections of 2011. He fought a legal battle and won his case in 2015, successfully citing that his grand-father Adar Ali Sheikh had land-documents of 1948 and the NRC of 1951 included the names of both his grand-parents. He exercised his franchise in the assembly elections of 2016 and the incomplete draft NRC published in 2017 included his name; but his name, along with the names of his five children, did not appear on the final draft NRC published in 2018 on the 'ground' that he was a D-voter. The name of his wife, however, appears on it.

Financial hardship deterred Hasen Ali from putting up a legal fight for the removal of the D-tag attached to the name of his wife. Failing to meet the demand of his lawyer, which was quite moderate but very high for him, he decided to keep pending the fight for his wife's franchise till the fight for his own franchise was over. Meanwhile, his wife was declared a foreigner vide ex-parte hearing. Paradoxically, she is a beneficiary of a BPL-card (what her 'D-voter' husband is not) and her name has been kept on 'hold' in the final draft of the NRC.

Two brothers of Rampur Satra, Jamaluddin and Abdul Karim, have been running two D-voter cases lodged against them at two tribunals in Nagaon district, one at Dhing and another at Nagaon town. They are sons of Samsuddin, who had his name on the voters' list of 1971, and grandsons of Alimuddin, who had his name on the voters' list of 1965. While they had already been running two D-voter cases against them at the Foreigners Tribunal at Dhing since 2015, they were summoned by the Foreigners Tribunal at Nagaon by notice nos. 157/16 and 159/16 respectively. Now, the two brothers are being honoured with altogether four D-voter cases lodged against them, two at Dhing (case nos. 1150 and 1149 respectively) and two at Nagaon town (case nos. 224 and 339 respectively). They are fighting their cases with two different advocates at two different places, submitting the same sets of paper at two different tribunals. The luckiest man at this period is the sarkari gaonburha (government-employed village headman), who is an indispensable witness for both the brothers in the tribunals. He commutes between his own house and the tribunals by a hired car, the fare of which (Rs 1000 for Dhing and Rs 1500 for Nagaon per travel) is being paid by these two brothers. Moreover, he lunches at their cost and takes an honorarium of Rs 2000 against every appearance of his at the tribunal. Most of the other gaonburahs acting as witnesses of other victims are also making illegal money in the same way. No protest by the victims will help, because the appearance of the sarkari gaonburha is indispensable for winning such cases. The minimunm fee for the signature of a gaonburah is Rs 50.

Indiscriminate use of the D-tag is sometimes victimising a whole locality. The Amlakhi Gaon Panchayat under Batadraba Legislative Constituency is a glaring example of that. As many as seventy-two Bengali-speaking Muslims only in two wards (ward nos. 5 and 6) of the Gaon Panchayat are carrying D-tag and one, namely Md Saifuddin, has been in Tezpur Detention Camp since 27 May 2017. Son of Motaleb Ali (voter since 1970) and grand-son of Jabed Ali (voter since 1965), Md Saifuddin got his franchise in 1977 and a D-tag in 1997. Saifuddin was declared a foreigner by the Forigners Tribunal of Dhing and having failed to obtain a reversal of that judgment by the Gauhati High Court, he is now seeking restoration of his Indian citizenship by the apex court of India.

Debilitated by financial hardship to run their cases or to appear regularly at the tribunals or courts, many are being declared foreigners vide ex parte hearing. The inability of many victims to appoint competent lawyers to run their cases either owing to their illiteracy or owing to their financial hardship is also causing their failure to obtain the kind of verdict that is their due. Many are becoming victims of the avaricious designs and incompetence of their lawyers and of the rackets which are making money by exploiting their illiteracy, simplicity and helplessness.

An error-free NRC is almost a unanimous demand of Assam, though it is a sad reality that most of the champions of this demand are either ignoring or are ignorant of the huge network of exploitation that is spread all over the state and sucking the last drop of blood of the poorest of the poor. The people who are going through the process of proving their Indian citizenship are being cheated almost everywhere and by almost all. Nur Islam of Rampur Satra is one of those who are cherishing a high amount of suspicion about the existence of humanism in this world. Despite the fact he is a son of late Mantaj Ali, whose name appeared in the NRC of 1951 as a resident of a nearby village named Batamari, Nur Islam has been a D-voter since 1997. It is significant that the electoral rolls of 1965 include the names of both Mantaj Ali and Nur Islam. The lawyer who took Nur Islam's case assured him that two or three hearings would be enough for him for the removal of the D-tag against his client's name and he would take only Rs 4000 from him for doing the job. Nur Islam agreed to the proposal and paid him Rs 4000. The lawyer took from him all the relevant documents in original and bade him goodbye with the assurance that he would not be required to pay him any more money. But hardly had two hearings been over the lawyer arbitrarily declared revocation of the contract and asked the client to pay him fees on every date fixed by tribunal for his appearance or hearing. Nur Islam disagreed to this proposal and requested him to return him the original documents he had given him at the time of the contract. The advocate turned down the request with the words that he would not be able to do that as the original documents had already been submitted to the Member of the Foreigners Tribunal at Dhing. Caught in this trap, the poor client found no option but to fight his case under the stewardship of that advocate and paying him five hundred to one thousand rupees per date. Moreover, he has to pay the sarkari gaonburha his TA and DA, which have by this time amounted to about sixteen thousand rupees. Poor Nur Islam claims to have spent about one lakh rupees over the case, but the D-tag is still hanging from his neck. The final draft of the NRC published on 30 June 2018 includes the names of his mother and wife, but not his own.

There has been a widespread impression that Lower Assam is an el derado for foreigners from neighbouring Bangladesh. Probably based on this impression there have been two detention camps in Lower Assam: one at Goalpara and another at Kokrajhar. These detention camps are hells on earth, where human rights are grossly violated. Many bona fide Indians are taken to those camps and kept imprisoned for months and years without trial. It is learnt that there have been about two thousand people kept indefinitely imprisoned in abominable conditions in six detention camps of the state, viz. at Goalpara, Kokrajhar, Tezpur, Jorhat and Silchar. Subsequent to the resignation of Harsh Mander from National Human Rights Commission in protest against the appalling conditions of two detention camps in Lower Assam in June 2018, Nani Das, Secretary of the Goalpara District Committee of the CPI(M) sought, by an application dated 13 July 2018, the permission of the Deputy Commissioner of Goalpara for visiting the detention camp at Goalpara. The application mentioned the names of four CPI(M) leaders who would be his companions in the visit: Uddhav Barman (ex-MP), Suprakash Talukdar (member, central committeee of the the party), Manoranjan Talukdar and Parvez Ali. Despite the maintenance of all these formalities, the much desired permission has not yet been obtained. The detention camps are representing Terror and there have been people active all over the state for making money by infusing terror in the hearts of the D-voters, declared foreigners and all those whose names have not appeared on the final draft of the NRC. While there have been a handful of dedicated lawyers who are honestly and competently working for the distressed, there are many who are both incompetent and dishonest. It is this second set which is imperilling justice and the interests of the poor. While the Supreme Court in Delhi is a far cry for almost all the victims, Guwahati is a distant and unknown place for many. So there are lots of people who cannot directly contact their lawyers, but fall easy victims to the money-making designs of some touts and agents who collect money in the names of big advocates.

It is not only the poor multitudes who are facing insurmountable problems in the process of the preparation of the NRC, but there are some above-the-average persons who are also facing a sea of problems in the process of the making of the NRC. It would be improper if one doesn't cite at least one case, namely the case of Nurun Nahar Begum, retired principal of Laharighat Higher Secondary School in the district of Morigaon, out of this discussion. She became a D-voter in 2012 and she immediately sought legal redressal which she got in 2015. For obtaining this order she had takes a retired employee of the election office at Dhing to Morigaon court four times as a witness of her case, spending Rs 20,000. The VIP witness went there to say that she had been made a D-voter as a punishment for her non-compliance with a summon that was sent to her from the election office. Having won the case, Nurun Nahar immediately communicated the court's verdict to the election office as a result of which the letter 'D' against her name did not appear in the supplentary voters' list that was published in 2017; but it reappeared in the corrected voters' list of 2018. As she was pushed back to her previous position of a D-voter, she and her two doctor sons, Ziaul Haque (an ENT specialist) and Inamul Haque (pathologist) found no place in the final draft of the NRC that was published in June 2018. Not only that, Ziaul's wife and Nurun Nahar's daughter-in-law, Saida Taznin Ara Begum, who is an indigenous Muslim, has been denied a place in that draft.

Nurun Nahar's father, who was headmaster of an LP School near Dhing in the district of Nagaon, had his name in the NRC of 1951. Her own HSLC (High School Leaving Certificate) Examination Admit Card which contains the sentence "His/Her age on the 1st March 1971 will be 14 years 6 months 16 days" is also an unquestionable proof of her Indian nationality. Everybody knows that the cut-off date for the detection of foreigners in Assam is 25 March 1971.

The Indianness of the father and the grand-father of Ziaul and Inamul is also unquestionable. Their father, Nurul Haque, was a Congressman, a public prosecutor at Morigaon Court and a president of Morigaon Bar Association. He unsuccessfully contested from Laharighat LAC on a Congress ticket in 1985. Their grand-father, Faizuddin Ahmed, was a freedom fighter, who, in 1962, unsuccessfully contested as a Congress candidate against Laksmi-prasad Goswami, a renowned Socialist Party leader of that time. It is ironical that the descendants of a freedom-fighter like Faizuddin Ahmed are now being compelled to appear time and again at Laharighat NSK (NRC Seva Kendra) with proofs of their Indianness, and their mother is still carrying a D-voter tag despite the court verdict that she is an Indian.

As strong supporters of a foolproof NRC for Assam cannot one now reminds the rulers of the state as well as of the nation of their sacred duty to stop the terrible massacre of human rights before they decide to abandon the time-honoured Italian proverb and the maxims of Voltaire and Blackstone with which the discussion was started.

Vol. 51, No.37, Mar 17 - 23, 2019