15, Oct 2020 | Zamser Ali
Musa Mondal became the 107th casualty of the citizenship crisis in Assam when he allegedly hanged himself on October 12, 2020, upon being declared foreigner. Modal hailed from Kayastha Para village that falls under the jurisdiction of the Sorbhog police station in Barpeta district.
In 2018, Musa, son of Voyage Mondal received a foreigner’s notice from the 8th Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) in Barpeta. After this he approached a lawyer and paid her a huge sum of money to fight his case. It was difficult for the unlettered man to organise the funds as he is the only earning member in his impoverished family of four. However, shortly afterwards, his lawyer met with an accident and had to be hospitalised. After 10 days in a coma, she was bed ridden for about 9 months. As she couldn’t appear before the FT during this period, Musa Mondal was declared foreigner by ex-parte judgment.
Now that the final NRC has been published, and 19,06,657 people have been excluded from the final list, CJP’s campaign has become even more focused. Our objective now, is to help these excluded people defend their citizenship before Foreigners’ Tribunals. We are also helping secure the release of detention camp inmates as per the Supreme Court order on their conditional release. For this we have already started conducting a series of workshops to train paralegals to assist people at FTs. We will also be publishing a multi-media training manual containing simplified aspects of legal procedure, evidentiary rules, and judicial precedents that will ensure the appeals filed against the NRC exclusions in the FTs are comprehensive and sound, both in fact and in law. This will assist our paralegals, lawyers and the wider community in Assam to negotiate this tortuous process. For this we need your continued support. Please donate now to help us help Assam.
Musa Mondal, who was living on a small piece of government land in Kayastha para, along the banks of Naljhora river, which flows into India from Bhutan, lost his mental balance as the Advocate informed him that he needed to pay a further Rs 80,000 to knock the doors of Gauhati High Court to challenge the order of the FT. He was quite upset about the development and was trying to gather money for filing a petition, challenging the order of the Foreigners’ Tribunal and proving himself to be Indian. For the last one and half years, he tried to gather some money but failed.
After a point he could not deal with his distress any more. On October 11, 2020 he left his home and became untraceable. He returned briefly, but left again. Sometime later, he was discovered hanging nearby.
It is noteworthy that Voyage Mondal (Musa’s father) and Foyez Mondal, two sons of Eju Mondal was enrolled in the Voters List of 1965 and 1970 in the Khudnamari Pathar village that falls under the jurisdiction of the Sorbhog police station of Barpeta district. The name of Musa Mondal who is son of Voyage Mondal is enrolled as a voter since 1989.
Khudnamari Pathar and Kayastha Para are located adjacent to each other and often bear the brunt of floods that are common in the area. Unlike Musa Mondal, many people of Khudnamari Pathar migrated to Kayastha para as major parts of both these villages were affected by flooding of the Naljhora river. Though Musa Mondal was voting in Kayastha Para in the later period, he was marked as D Voter and finally faced Foreigners case.
Madhab Ali a.k.a Ali Mohammad Mondal, who is the son of Musa’s uncle Fayez Mondal says, “Musa and I faced Foreigners Cases simultaneously. I was declared Indian based on the same legacy documents. But, Musa Mondal, who was my cousin, was declared a foreigner!” It is noteworthy that the names of both brothers, Voyage Mondal and Foyez Mondal, were recorded in the Voters Llist of 1965 and 1970 not only in the same village, but in the same family.
But it looks like things are only going to get worse for this village. Shajahan Ali, an educated youth of the village says, in the Voters list of Kayastha Para, there are 42 people who have been marked D Voters! He fears they will all end up like Musa Mondal, if they don’t find proper help in time.
*Feature image: Family of late Musa Mondal