27, May 2019 | CJP Team
In a heartbreaking instance of man succumbing to hopelessness, Ashrab Ali, a 93 year old man, was found dead in Assam’s Kamrup district after someone filed an objection application against the inclusion of his name in the National Register of Citizens (NRC). His family alleges he committed suicide by consuming poison.
“His name was in the final draft of NRC published last year but someone put an objection against him and he had to attend a hearing on May 23 in Rangia (about 100 km away). After the hearing, his biometrics were taken and that scared him because some people in the village told him that biometric details are taken from suspected foreigners whom police might put in a detention camp,” Fazlur Rehman, a family member, told Indian Express.
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The family says that he was disturbed after attending the hearing and feared he would be dragged away to a detention camp. He also feared how his family’s citizenship status would now be questioned if his citizenship could not be proved.
It is noteworthy, that in May 2018, Prateek Hajela, the State Coordinator of the NRC, had directed all NRC officials to keep pending names of siblings and family members of declared foreigners from the NRC. The controversial order was upheld by the Gauhati High Court. In a version of ‘guilty by association’, it makes all family members of a declared foreigner vulnerable as their citizenship comes into question. Ali feared if he were to be declared foreigner, his entire family would suffer.
Independent journalist Rohini Mohan tweeted this heart rending thread about meeting Ali’s family at his funeral. She also tweeted this video of purple pesticide that a local reporter shot near where Ali’s body was found. But the local police have ruled out suicide saying no poison was recovered from the location where the body was found. However, a post mortem has been ordered.