11, Sep 2018 | Zamser Ali
Binoy Chanda, the only earning member of his family, became the 28th suicide victim in Assam since the BJP came to power in May 2016 due to the ‘D’ Voter issue. The poor youth of Dimlapar village under the Tamulpur Police Station in the Baksa district committed suicide late at night on Sunday, September 9, due to fears that his mother, Santi Rani Chanda, was going to be declared a ‘Foreigner’ by a Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT).
Although Santi Rani Chanda had all the relevant documents to prove that she is an Indian citizen, she received a ‘Suspected Foreigner’ notice in the early part of 2018. After receiving the Foreigners notice, Binoy Chanda approached senior advocate and prominent writer Omar Ali Choudhury, and took his mother to the Foreigners’ Tribunal of the Baksa district so that she could be proved an Indian citizen. For the last seven months, Binoy, along with his mother repeatedly appeared before the Foreigners’ Tribunal, and collected all documents by which her rights to citizenship could be protected. In the process, Binoy, a daily wage labourer, had to spend all the money that he could earn in collecting documents and travelling. His debts increased day by day. In spite of this, he seemingly felt that there was no sign of hope that his mother would be declared an Indian citizen because of what he perceived was the bias of the member of the Foreigners’ Tribunal. He became increasingly frustrated, and finally took the extreme step of suicide.
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Binoy’s mother, Santi Rani Chanda, said, “I myself have all valid documents to prove myself an Indian citizen. I have migration certificate of 1964 along with my family, which is enough to prove myself an Indian citizen. But the member of the Foreigners’ Tribunal under whom my case is pending did not attend to my advocate’s arguments. Thus, my son Binoy Chanda became depressed, that I am going to be declared a ‘Foreigner’. In this situation, he found no option but took the supreme decision.”
Santi Rani Chanda expressed her displeasure over the functioning of the Foreigners’ Tribunal. She said, “As per the dates given by the Foreigners’ Tribunal, my son took me to the Tribunal on each and every occasion, but in maximum number of occasions, I found that the Member of the Foreigners’ Tribunal was absent. So, another date was given to us. But our problem was that to attend the Tribunal, my son had to spend his working day and had to spend huge sum of money for our travel, which was beyond his capacity.” Adhir Arya, All Bengali Youth-Student’s Federation leader of Tamulpur district said, “It is quite unbelievable that thousands of genuine Indian citizens have been harassed by the Foreigners’ Tribunals on the behest of the present government. The response of the government towards the genuine Indian citizens is most irresponsible.”
Advocate and writer Omar Ali Choudhury, who represents Santi Rani Chanda, was shocked to hear the news of Binoy’s suicide. He said that her case is ongoing, adding, “The Member of the Foreigners’ Tribunal, Baksa at Tamulpur is working like an obedient servant of the present government of Assam. He is working like a machine to make Foreigners without any justification. Whatever the genuine documents submitted to this Tribunal, it doesn’t matter to him. He sets aside all documents and declares Foreigners whimsically. Till now about 100 cases has been disposed in his Tribunal, where only four cases have received positive results. Many people in the Dimlapar village have been declared Foreigners during his tenure of four months in this Tribunal. Before Tamulpur, he was a Member of Foreigners Tribunal-1, Nalbari.” According to Choudhury, in that Tribunal, the Member disposed 249 cases, in which he rejected “all just and genuine documents,” and only nine people were declared Indian citizens. The advocate said that Binoy Chanda was aware of this, and that he took an extreme decision out of frustration.