Assam woman declared Indian citizen after 6-year-long legal battle

| Updated: 13 October, 2023 8:58 pm IST

GUWAHATI: Dulubi Bibi, a 50-year-old resident of Udharbond in Assam’s Cachar district, has finally been recognised as an Indian citizen after a prolonged legal battle that began with her being declared an illegal migrant from Bangladesh in 2017 due to discrepancies in voter lists.

Bibi’s journey through the Indian legal system was a challenging one. The Foreigner Tribunal (FT-3) order accessed by The New Indian stated that her troubles started when, her name appeared differently in many voters’ lists, listed variously as Dulubi Bibi, Dulabjan Begum, and Dulubi Bibi.

Furthermore, there were discrepancies in her father’s and grandfather’s names across these lists, and she couldn’t establish a clear connection between her parents’ names.

A member of the Foreigners Tribunal-3 of Silchar declared her a foreigner on March 20, 2017, during the hearing of a 1998 case under the Illegal Migrants Determination by Tribunals Act, which was later re-registered under the Foreigners Tribunals Act in 2015.

The tribunal’s order stated that she failed to prove that she and her father were born in India and resided within the Indian territory before 1971. As a result, the tribunal concluded that she had migrated into India illegally after March 25, 1971.

In a distressing turn of events, the tribunal ordered her arrest and detention until she could be deported to Bangladesh. Consequently, the police arrested her on April 18, 2018, and she was placed in a detention camp in Silchar.

After spending two years in detention, she was released in April 2020 on bail following a Supreme Court directive. In May 2023, she challenged the 2017 tribunal order in the Guwahati High Court.

Dulubi Bibi received support from the District Legal Service Authority (DLSA) in Cachar, which provided her with free legal assistance. The DLSA appointed advocate Mahitosh Das as her lawyer. After multiple proceedings and extensive efforts, the High Court ordered the member of Silchar’s FT-3 to review the case.

Speaking with The New Indian, Advocate Mahitosh Das expressed, “She had to spend 2 years custody in the detention camp. She has suffered a lot but with the help of the Gauhati High Court and with further proceedings, the FT-3 member was convinced with the materials produced and argument placed before him and declared her as Indian citizen.”

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In a recent order issued by BK Talukdar, member of FT-3 in Silchar, Dulubi Bibi was officially declared an Indian citizen. The order stated, “According to the report submitted by the Superintendent of Police (B) with related documents including copies of NRC details of 1966, printed voters list of 1993, Gaon Panchayat Certificate, Elector Voter Identify Card and an Affidavit stating that the OP Dulabjan Begum daughter of Sirai Uddin Laskar, Dulabjan Begum daughter of Sirai Mia and Dulabjan Bibi are one and the same person.”

Dulubi Bibi received the official order on October 11, 2023. While speaking with the media, she expressed her frustration with the government, saying, “I am a Muslim woman and my family is conservative. I used to work as a cook before going to jail. I’m not sure if my husband will accept me or if I’ll get any work now. Will the government take responsibility of this damage?”

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