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Monday, January 24, 2022
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Gauhati HC orders release of lady initially declared as ‘Indian’ then a ‘Foreigner’

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Following the intervention of the Gauhati High Court, a 55-year-old inhabitant of Assam’s Darrang district, who was declared ‘Indian’ in 2016 and then ‘foreigner’ in 2021 by the same Foreigners Tribunal (FT), will walk out of custody on Thursday.

As per report by The Indian Express, Hasina/Hasna Bhanu was declared not to be a “foreigner/illegal migrant of any stream” by the FT-I in Mangaldai in August 2016. However, after a recommendation from the Assam Border police in 2017, who suspected her of being a Bangladeshi national, another case was filed against her in the same FT. In March 2021, the tribunal issued an opinion pronouncing her a “foreigner of the 25.03.1971” stream, following which she was detained and imprisoned in Tezpur jail in October.

Lawyer’s Verdict

Bhanu’s lawyer, Guwahati-based solicitor Zakir Hussain, said she came from a family of “poor farmers” and that “all her documents were in order.” She provided seven documents after receiving the first notification, including voter list records from her father and grandparents from 1966, her own voter list record from 1989, and linkage documents to prove her relationship.

In 2016, she was proclaimed “Indian by birth” based on these facts. Bhanu presented 17 documents when she was served with a notice for the second time. “This time the tribunal ruled that her linking documents were not (acceptable),” the lawyer explained.

gauhati hc releases

“An FT’s decision is solely binding when it comes to the NRC procedure — in the sense that someone who is on the NRC can later be labelled a foreigner by an FT.” “However, when it comes to another FT’s decision, one FT’s decision is not binding,” he continued.

The verdict was noteworthy, according to a lawyer who works with citizenship disputes in Assam, because it was customary for FTs to commence procedures against the same individual it had previously proclaimed “Indian.” He stated, “This judgement by the Gauhati High Court sets a solid precedent.”

Relatives are relieved from the judgement

Bhanu’s relatives said they would take her up on Thursday from Tezpur jail (approximately 100 kilometres from Darrang) after the Gauhati High court’s judgement.

“We’re relieved,” said the group. She had already been proclaimed Indian in 2016, but in 2019 the same court filed a bideshi (foreigner) lawsuit against her… We were made to run around, spend a lot of money, and be harassed as a result. Bhanu’s brother-in-law, Akram Hussain, said, “We are grateful to the Gauhati High Court for justice.”

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