Born in 1943, Assam man carries ‘foreigner’ tag

Official attributes it to clerical error

July 09, 2019 10:12 pm | Updated July 10, 2019 10:37 am IST - GUWAHATI

Sunirmal Bagchi.

Sunirmal Bagchi.

The birth register of the municipality in southern Assam’s Silchar town says Sunirmal Bagchi was born on September 21, 1943. This did not prevent the 76-year-old from being marked a ‘foreigner’ during the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that had taken March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for determining citizenship.

Mr. Bagchi’s name figured in the draft list of NRC published in July 2018. The list contained the names of 2.89 crore out of 3.29 crore applicants.

But his name was struck off the draft NRC and included in the additional exclusion list of 1.02 lakh people published on June 26. On July 1, a notice he received from the local NRC office told him why — he had been declared a foreigner.

Papers in order

Four days later, Mr. Bagchi went for a hearing at a panchayat office serving as a temporary NRC centre. The officer assigned to deal with his case found his papers in order and told him the matter would be taken up with the local in-charge of the NRC updating process.

Anis Rasool Majumdar, the NRC’s Nodal Officer in Silchar, attributed Mr. Bagchi’s case to a clerical error.

“It is easy for officials to blame it on some mistake or the other. Will they compensate for the harassment and mental torture I went through after receiving the ‘foreigner’ notice?” Mr. Bagchi told The Hindu from Silchar, the headquarters of the Cachar district about 310 km south of Guwahati.

Sons are citizens

The septuagenarian, a contractor by profession, failed to fathom how he could be deemed a foreigner when his sons — Samrat and Subharaj — have been found to be genuine citizens using his legacy data. Every other member of his family is in the draft NRC.

Soon after receiving the notice, Mr. Bagchi and his sons went to the Cachar Superintendent of Police. They found the police’s border wing, tasked with detecting suspected foreigners, had no case against him. The local election office too did not mark him as a ‘D’, or doubtful voter.

“If this is not harassment, what is? I think some people in Assam get a kick out of making us run from pillar to post for nothing,” Mr. Bagchi said.

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