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Freedom fighter’s kin or a foreigner? SC to take a call

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has sought the Assam government’s response on an appeal filed by one Rashminara Begum, who claimed that her father was a freedom fighter, yet she had been ordered to be deported to Bangladesh after being identified as an illegal immigrant.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising said the Gauhati high court did not consider many Documentary Evidence Produced by Rashminara and mechanically upheld the Foreigners Tribunal decision identifying her as an illegal migrant. She claimed that in the guise of the drive to deport illegal Bangladeshi migrants, there appeared to be a systematic plan to target Indian Muslims in Assam.

On petitions filed by Sarbananda Sonowal, now Assam chief minister, the SC had in 2005 directed the state government to set up adequate number of Foreigners Tribunals to detect and deport Bangladeshis who crossed over to India after 1971. The SC had also held that Section 9 of the Foreigners Act, 1946, rightly placed the burden of proof on a person who claimed to be an Indian citizen.

A bench of Justices R K Agrawal and A M Sapre issued notice to the Assam government and also asked why Rashminara not be permitted to continue on bail as she had delivered a baby in April. An HC bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and P K Phukan, while upholding the tribunal’s order on May 22, had said, “We feel that notwithstanding the declaration that she is a foreigner, it would be in the interest of justice to grant her bail for a limited period (three months) to tide over the pangs of childbirth.”

The HC bench had scrutinised the entire documentary Evidence Produced by Rashminara, including a claim by her counsel N Dutta and M U Mahmud that her father Ramjan Ali “was a freedom fighter and a well known personality in the locality”.

Referring to numerous documents, including school certificates and voter cards, produced by Rashminara to prove she was an Indian, the HC bench said, “A person cannot have so many years of birth (seven to be precise). A discrepancy here and there is understandable. But consistent discrepancies with the other material contradictions would render the version suspect.

“Again, if the petitioner was born in the year 1988, her name could not have appeared in the voters’ list of 2005 because she was only 17 years of age, the voting age being 18, not to speak of being a voter in the 1997 voters’ list when she would have been only 9 years of age. Perhaps for this reason and for other discrepancies as noticed, she was marked as a doubtful voter in 2005.”

Source : timesofindia

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Freedom fighter’s kin or a foreigner? SC to take a call


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