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Voter ID, Land Documents, Pan Cards Not Enough to Prove Citizenship in Assam

Guwahati, February 19, 2020:

The Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) has become a bone of contention lately. There have been fresh debates over proving one’s citizenship hailing from this state of the country, the latest one being the curious case of Jabeda Khatun, who had submitted as many as fifteen documents for the inclusion of her name in the list.

Jabeda Khatun, a woman hailing from Tamulpur, Assam had challenged the Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) order (May, 2019), which declared her as a ‘foreigner’ of post 1971 stream. She claimed that she was a citizen of India by birth. In order to prove her citizenship, Khatun submitted every single document she had with her. Fifteen different documents were provided in order to prove that she belonged to Assam and had nowhere else to go.

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The NRC details of her father Jabed Ali, Voter List of 1966, Voter list of 1970, four Land Revenue Paying Receipts, Voter Lists of 1997, Voter Lists of 2015, a certificate of Gaon Bura certifying that Md. Jabed Ali (Khatun’s father) is a permanent resident of Village No. 2 Dongergaon, another certificate of Village Gaon Bura certifying that the petitioner being the daughter of Lt. Jabed Ali was married to Rejak Ali, a copy of Ration Card in the name of the petitioner, Bank Passbook, PAN Card and another bank document of the petitioner. All these documents were submitted by Jabeda Khatun to the FT to claim her citizenship, which rejected on the grounds of different reasons.

It may be mentioned here that as per the rules of Assam NRC, those identified as suspected illegal immigrants who came to Assam after March 24, 1971, the cut-off date as per the Citizenship Act, have to prove their citizenship in the Foreigners’ Tribunals.

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Khatun, who had claimed that her family had to shift villages due to river erosion, produced documents where she sought to show that her father was in the NRC list of 1951. She showed that the names of her parents and grandparents appeared in the voter list of 1966, the names of her parents and siblings were also present in several subsequent voter lists.

However, all of those were rejected. Interestingly, the Gauhati High Court order also did not take into account the Gaon Bura’s certificates.

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“Certificates issued by a Village Gaon Bura can never be the proof of citizenship of a person. Such certificate can only be used by a married woman to prove that after her marriage, she had shifted to her matrimonial village [Rupjan Begum Vs. Union of India, reported in (2018) 1 SCC 579],” the order read.

“…We find that the Tribunal has correctly appreciated the evidences placed before it and we could find any perversity in the decision of the Tribunal. That being the position, we would reiterate that the petitioner failed to prove her linkage with her projected parents and her projected brother. Therefore, we find that this writ petition is devoid of merit and accordingly, we dismiss the same. The writ petition is disposed of accordingly,” the order concluded.

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