GUWAHATI: Eight days on but the family of a declared “foreigner” Dulal Paul, 64, in Assam is refusing to receive his body even as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has registered a case in connection with the death.
Activist Manas Roy said he had received an acknowledgement from the NHRC on October 18 pertaining to the registration of the case.
He had petitioned the NHRC alleging that Paul was sent to the Tezpur detention camp in 2017 despite his family furnishing documentary evidence of his Indian citizenship. He also alleged that the sexagenarian was denied proper medical treatment.
Abhijit Sarma, who is the chief of an NGO “Assam Public Works” that first moved the Supreme Court seeking the updation of National register of Citizens (NRC), alleged Paul was wrongfully incarcerated.
“He was a genuine Indian citizen but the government had put him inside a detention centre. As this is a serious issue of human rights, the government must do everything required including paying adequate compensation to the family,” Sarma said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal promised that he would visit Paul’s residence in Sonitpur district after the body was cremated. The family is demanding a certified copy from the government with a declaration that Paul was an Indian citizen and not an illegal immigrant.
During a meeting with a delegation of All Assam Bengali Youth Students’ Federation on Saturday, Sonowal had said that it would be impossible for his government to declare Paul an Indian as the Gauhati High Court had upheld the judgement of Foreigners’ Tribunal which declared him (Paul) a “foreigner”.
The state’s Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said the state government would extend legal help if the family moves the Supreme Court seeking Indian status for Paul posthumously.
Paul, who was sent to the detention camp on October 11, 2017, had died at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital on October 13. He was being treated there for diabetes besides psychiatric and kidney-related ailments. At the time of his arrest, he was mentally-unstable, his family said.