Man gets 'foreigner notice', ends life

Last Updated 28 October 2018, 14:22 IST

A 50-year-old bicycle mechanic reportedly committed ‘suicide’ on Saturday night in his residence in western Assam’s Udalguri district, nearly three months after he was served a ‘foreigner notice’ by a tribunal.

Family members of the deceased, Dipak Debnath, a Bengali Hindu at Ghagra village in the district, claimed that Dipak was very tense since he received the notice on July 29 and this could have prompted him to take the extreme step.

Police said that Dipak’s body was found hanging from a tree in the backyard of his house on Sunday morning.

Dipak is survived by his wife and two young daughters.

His nephew, Uttam Debnath told DH over phone that Dipak was stunned after getting the foreigner notice even as names of his entire family figured in the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), released on July 30.

The notice was issued by a foreigner tribunal on March 20 and Dipak was asked to appear before it to prove his Indian citizenship.

“We consoled him that he will have no problem since his name appeared in the NRC but he got very nervous after the voters list of 1971 and his school certificate, which he had submitted for NRC enrollment, were rejected by the tribunal officials. He was looking for other documents for his next hearing on October 31. Around 6 pm on Saturday, he went out of his home and did not return,” Uttam said.

Uttam said that it was surprising to see that Dipak was served a foreigner notice but his elder brother Gopal Debnath did not get such a notice, yet.

Bapi Sarkar, assistant secretary of All Assam Bengali Youth Students’ Federation said that more than 10 people, mainly Bengali Hindus ended their lives similarly in Assam in the past one year due to “harassment” meted out to them in the name of NRC.

Over 40.07 lakh people of the total 3.29 crore applicants found their names missing from the draft NRC.

“We condemn such harassment and demand urgent steps to stop it. How can a person be served a foreigner notice despite having his name in the NRC? Names of his family members appeared in the NRC only because he proved his citizenship,” he said.

A police officer probing the case said prima-facie it looked like a suicide.

“Family members told us that he was tense after getting the foreigner notice but we can start investigation on that angle after getting an FIR from the family,” he said.

(Published 28 October 2018, 14:08 IST)

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