Activist from Assam Pranab Doley, who has been a vocal critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party, on Monday was told that his nationality was doubtful by the regional passport office while scrutinising his renewal application.
“Your nationality is doubtful as per police Verification Report,” the objection letter from the passport read. “Please clarify at the Passport Office in person.”
The police’s report come at a time when Assam has formed a sub-committee to submit a framework to implement the Assam Accord within three months and update the National Register of Citizens.
The NRC is a register meant to document all legal citizens of India. More than 19 lakh people were left out of the final list of the Assam NRC that was published on August 31, 2019.
In February, Doley had told The Wire that he was harassed by Bharatiya Janata Party and Asom Gana Parishad leaders when he had announced their plans to contest for the 2021 Assam Assembly elections.
Doley had announced that he would fight from Bokakhat constituency as an independent candidate. He was offered support by Mahajot, an alliance of Congress, All India United Democratic Front and the Left parties in Assam.
On Tuesday, Doley, after receiving the objection letter from the passport office, said that he would fight to save the Constitution and would not stay silent.
“I stood for elections #PMModi campaigned against me and now I [have] become a doubtful citizen while applying for my passport renewal,” he said in a tweet.
Doley and another activist Soneshwar Narah have worked for the rights of indigenous communities living in and around the Kaziranga National Park in Assam’s Golaghat district.
In 2017, when the BJP was in power, Doley and Narah were put in police custody for speaking about alleged extra-judicial killing of civilians, branded as poachers inside the wildlife reserve – which is home to two-thirds of the world’s population of the one-horned rhino.
Doley also featured in a controversial BBC documentary, Killing for Conservation, on the same subject that aired in February 2017, following which Indian authorities banned the media house from filming in India’s tiger reserves for the next five years.
Back then, an unidentified officer had told Scroll.in that the BBC documentary was the activists’ handiwork. He had alleged that Doley and Narah had misled the journalists and instigated the locals to give false information.
In April 2017, Doley and Narah’s Jeepal Krishak Shramik Sangha had staged a protest in response to an advertisement for recruitment to the 90 Assam Forest Protection Force, a specialised armed force supervised and controlled by the national park’s management.
The Sangha had said that the 90 personnel should be selected from communities living around the national park. It also demanded the immediate release of compensation for loss of life or property during the 2016 floods and a loan waiver for affected farmers.
That year, more than 200 animals had drowned in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, 80% of which was under water following torrential rains.