Death by Citizenship: They made it to NRC, but were dropped later – tagged as suspected foreigners – By Arunabh Saikia
There is no ceiling fan in the Das’ living room anymore. Nirod Baran Das had hanged himself from it last October, damaging it beyond repair in the process. It has been a particularly harsh summer this year, but the family, who live in the tiny town of Kharupetia in Assam’s Darrang district, have not bothered to get a replacement. The heat is bearable, not the grief.
In the adjoining district of Udalguri, life changed for the Debnaths last October as well. Seventeen-year-old Puja Debnath and 14-year-old Priti Debnath live with their mother, Panchomi Debnath, in a house made of corrugated tin sheets in the town of Kalaigaon. They moved here, leaving behind a large, airy house in Ghagra, 30 kilometres away, after their father, Deepak Debnath, killed himself.
Deepak Debnath, then 59, did not leave a suicide note. But the family say they knew why he did it. “The man changed after he received that wretched notice,” said Panchomi Debnath. “For three days after that he did not eat properly.” The notice in July 2018 had come from the Udalguri foreigners’ tribunal asking him to appear before it. Both Nirad Baran Das and Deepak Debnath discovered in July 2018 that their names had been dropped from the draft National Register of Citizens, months after they had been reassured about their citizenship status.…
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