Assam govt provides relief to 22K Gorkhas facing ‘foreigner’ trial
Assam govt provides relief to 22K Gorkhas facing ‘foreigner’ trial

TMB Agency

Guwahati (IANS): The Assam government has decided that no new cases would be registered against the Gorkha community in the state at the Foreigners Tribunals and the cases which have already been registered would also be withdrawn, giving a big relief to at least 22,000 members of the community in the northeastern state, officials said on Thursday.

An official from the state’s Home Department said that the state cabinet at its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday decided not to prosecute people belonging to the Gorkha community under the Citizenship Act and to withdraw all cases pending against them at the Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs).

The Bharatiya Gorkha Parishangh (BGP), the apex body of the Gorkha community, on Thursday greeted the decision of the BJP-led government and thanked the Chief Minister for solving the 24-year-old problem.

According to BGP’s national general secretary Nanda Kirati Dewan, more than 22,000 Gorkhas in Assam have been marked “Doubtful Voters or D-Voters” unilaterally by the authorities in the electoral rolls since 1997 and around 2,500 cases relating to citizenship are being heard at various FTs.

The BGP leader said that about 500 cases have been disposed of after the issuance of the notification for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) began in December 2013.

The BGP said that some people tried by the FTs were “identified as foreigners in ex-parte verdict and subsequently sent to detention camps”.

“The Assam cabinet’s decision is a great relief for the families of Gorkha people, especially those who had been prosecuted under the Citizenship Act. The illegal immigrants tag on the members of the community would also be abolished.

“We are original inhabitants of Assam and Indian citizens as well,” Dewan said, demanding that the D-Voter tags on Gurkhas should also be revoked after the significant decision of the state cabinet.

The BGP had also challenged the NRC after the first draft was published on December 31, 2017, highlighting the difficulties faced by the people belonging to the Gorkha community, who were unilaterally tried at the FTs, carrying the D-Voter tag.

The Union Home Ministry had on September 24, 2018 issued a notification, clarifying that Gorkhas should not be tried at FTs.

To update the 1951 NRC in Assam, the statutory notification for starting the Supreme Court-monitored exercise was issued in December 2013.

The draft list was published in August 2019, excluding 19.06 lakh out of 3.3 crore applications for lack of adequate documents for establishing their Indian citizenship.