A 104-year-old man in Assam, who was declared a foreigner by a tribunal in 2018, died before being able to prove his Indian citizenship, the Hindustan Times reported on Monday.
Chandradhar Das died at his home in Cachar district’s Amraghat area on Sunday night. He suffered a heart attack, according to The Indian Express.
Das was declared a foreigner by the tribunal in January 2018 after he failed to appear before it to prove his citizenship. He was sent to the Silchar Central Jail in March, but released in June after public outrage against his imprisonment.
Das’s three children and grandchildren were left out of the National Register of Citizens for Assam because of his citizenship status.
Chandradhar Das’s daughter Nyuti Das told The Indian Express that all he wanted was to die an Indian. “And we tried, we ran from court to court, from advocates to social workers, submitted all the papers,” she said. “And just like that, he’s gone. We are still ‘foreigners’ in the eyes of the law. The Act [Citizenship Amendment Act] did nothing for us.” Nyuti Das also spoke about how her father hoped that the new law would make them Indian citizens.
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Das came to India from East Pakistan (Bangladesh after 1971) in 1955. He was issued a refugee certificate in Tripura but it wasn’t verified by the authorities, according to Hindustan Times. People living in Assam before 1971 are, however, considered to be Indian citizens
Over 19 lakh people out of 3.3 crore were left out of the final list of the updated citizens’ database that was published on August 31, 2019. The number of people left out comprised around 6% of Assam’s entire population. This vast number, now left in limbo about their status as citizens, are yet to receive formal rejection notices known as “speaking orders”. Some of those left out have been appealing against their exclusion in foreigners’ tribunals. As many as 3.3 crore people had applied for the exercise.
Assam’s National Register of Citizens Coordinator Hitesh Sarma, however, informed the Gauhati High Court last week that the NRC list published in August last year was not complete, and the final list of the exercise was “yet to be published” by the Registrar General of India. He said that the list had some errors as it included “4,700-odd ineligible names”.
The National Population Register is the first step to creating an all-India National Register of Citizens which would identify undocumented migrants residing in India. On the other hand, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act grants citizenship based on religion to six undocumented communities, excluding the Muslims, from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
There is apprehension among people that the CAA, followed by the NRC, will benefit non-Muslims, while excluded Muslims will have to prove their citizenship. The Centre has, however, repeatedly claimed that the CAA and the NRC are not linked.