Being Dubbed as ‘D Voters’ compelled Abdul Jalil & Samsul Hoque to take their own lives
From Bagariguri (Barpeta), November,15: In a short span of less than 72 hours, two persons made the ultimate, supreme decision to sacrifice their lives, harassed and depressed due to the ongoing NRC and ‘D’voter processes causing despair in every corner of Assam.
The suicide of Abdul Jalil (35) and Samsul Hoque (46) are the 32nd and 33rd suicide cases in Assam. Both took their lives after the names of their wives did not appear in the final draft NRC, which was published on 30th July this year.
The latest incident took place in the Bagariguri under Sorbhog police station in Barpeta District of Assam. Samsul Hoque, was a daily wage labourer in the unorganised, agricultural sector and the only earning member of the family who committed suicide on November 14, 2018 at about 8.30 pm nearby his house at Bagariguri Village under Sorbhog police station of Barpeta District. The family members of the victim and local residents of Bagariguri Village allege that Samsul Hoque was frustrated , over the past months, following the publication of the final draft NRC, when he found that the name of his wife Maleka Khatun had not appeared in the final draft NRC.
Samsul Hoque, was earlier content eking out a meagre living along with his four minor sons and two daughters. His wife was already engaged in a thankless battle to prove her own citizenship since 2005. Maleka Khatun, daughter of Ahmed Paramanik, of Village Barbala under Betbari Tehsil of Barpeta (earlier Kamrup) District was dubbed a ‘doubtful foreigner’ in 2005 by the Border Police Department of Assam Police without any investigation. Since then, Maleka Khatun have been levelled as ‘D’ Voter in the Voters list and have been deprived of all rights of as a citizen of India. The ‘doubtful citizenship’ case of Maleka Khatun was referred to a Foreigners Tribunal and she was declared as a Foreigner without any proper justification or adjudication, it is alleged.
Samsul Hoque, living off minimum wage earnings, had to both feed an eight member family and also spend a huge sum of money on the legal process to ‘prove’ Maleka Khatun an Indian! Battling it out up to the High Court, the family got some relief. The Gauhati High Court finally found some discrepancies in the findings of the Tribunal and sent back the case to foreigners tribunal for reconsideration. Samsul Hoque, deputed an advocate in the Foreigners Tribunal, 8th Barpeta where the case appeared once again. After a long battle for justice, though Samsul Hoque was submerged in a huge debt caused by the legal fees he had to pay, some relief came when on, March 9, 2017 Maleka Khatun was declared Indian by the Foreigners Tribunal. Samsul Hoque celebrated this victory by distributing sinni (sweets for the pious) during the Friday prayer at a local mosque. But his joyous moment was very short lived.
Though the Foreigners Tribunal declared Maleka Khatun a Indian Citizen on March 9, 2017, her name didn’t appear in the first draft of the updated NRC which was published on December 31, 2017 or in the final draft of the updated NRC which was published on July30, 2018. At the same time, ignoring his repeated application and appeals to the authorities, the ‘D’ or doubtful mark against the name of Maleka Khatun was not deleted from the draft voters list of 2018. The situation was tragic and unbearable for Samsul Hoque.
A grief striken Maleka Khatun told Sabrangindia,” He was afraid to hear that the name of all ‘D’ Voters and their descendents will be deleted from the NRC, even though their names have appeared in the final draft NRC, He repeatedly contacted the NRC office and other qualified persons on the issue He was tense about the implications and depressed as he saw that though I was declared as Indian, the ‘D’ mark in my name was not deleted from the Voters list. He was terrified that the name of my husband, four sons and one daughter, which appeared in the final draft NRC was deleted from the draft and another daughter who was married earlier and who’s name didn’t appear in the final draft will not appear ever in the updated NRC due to ‘D’ Mark in the voters list against my name.”
Days before he took his life, Samsul Hoque was obsessing about the issue, the case of Maleka Khatun and the NRC. “When I tried to pacify him, he would say that my head has stopped functioning, it’s like my brain is boiling in hot water. He would hurt himself often, beating his head against the bamboo pillers of our home,” added Maleka Khatun.
Shajahan Ali Ahmed, general secretary of the Association for Protection of Indian Citizenship Rights, who is also Volunteer Motivator for the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) in Assam observed, “due to rude behaviour of the officials involved in the NRC process and the absence of proper counselling, Samsul Hoque was pushed or compelled to commit Suicide.”
Shaizuddin Khandakar, the general secretary of the All BTC Minority Student’s Union, Salbari District Committee demanded a proper inquiry into the matter. The BTAD Citizen Rights Forum has called the suicide a “systematic murder in the name of D Voter and demands legal steps against the Border Police officials who gives false reference against an Indian Citizen as a doubtful foreigner without any Investigation.”
Meanwhile, on the early morning of November 12 in yet another incident, a man committed suicide allegedly after his wife and son’s names were not enlisted in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Balargudam, under Abhyapuri police station of Bongaigaon District. The deceased has been identified as Abdul Jalil (35).
As per reports collected by Sarangindia, the names of Abdul Jalil’s wife Halima Khatoon (25) and son Hamidul (10) did not figure in the final draft NRC.
“Abdul Jalil was depressed after knowing that names of Halima and Hamidul were not enlisted in the draft NRC. He hit himself with a machete and died,”a local resident said.
The NRC authorities released the final draft of NRC on July 30. 2018. According to the press release of the State Co-ordinator, NRC 2,89, 83,677 persons were found eligible out of 3,29,91,384 applicants in the final draft of the NRC. The names of 4,007,707 people were not included in the final draft NRC. Out of these huge number of people, 37,59,630 names have been rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 are on hold assuming them as ‘D’ Voters, declared foreigners or their descendents. This state of affairs has created great insecurity among the Indian citizens as they have been excluded from the final draft of the NRC without any proper investigation or basis.