Deadlock over Cremation of 'Declared Foreigner' in Assam Continues, Family Refuses to Receive Body

CNN-News18

Guwahati: The deadlock over the last rites of a declared foreigner in Assam is still on. The family of Dulal Chandra Paul is still refusing to receive the body, which has been kept at the morgue of Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) since past 5 days. Even as the administration has been exerting pressure, the family said it would receive the body only if the state government issues a certified copy declaring that Paul was an Indian citizen and not a foreigner.

“They decided he is a foreigner and now want to hand over his body to us. How can he be buried in Indian soil if he’s a Bangladeshi? I have asked them to cremate him in Bangladesh. We will accept the body only if the administration certifies he was an Indian,” said Paul’s son Ashish.

The 64-year-old man was declared a foreigner by a Foreigners’ Tribunal and sent to the Tezpur detention camp on October 11, 2017. Paul died at the GMCH on Sunday. He was being treated for diabetes besides psychiatric and kidney-related ailments. At the time of his arrest, he was said to be mentally-unstable.

Paul’s son questioned authorities why his father was declared a foreigner while his uncle who used the same land document of their grandfather made it to the National Register of Citizens as an Indian national. Ashish and his two brothers have failed to make it to the final NRC published on August 31.

“We used our grandfather’s 1965 land documents, and the same was also used by my uncle, my father’s brother who along with his family have made it to the NRC, but we three brothers have been left out. From our family, only my mother has been included in the NRC.”

The Assam government on Wednesday ordered a magisterial probe into his death. Earlier, the All Assam Bengali Youth Student’s Federation of Sonitpur District submitted a memorandum to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, requesting the government to “declare Dulal Chandra Paul as an Indian in accordance with procedure established by law”. They further demanded adequate compensation for Paul’s family besides conducting an inquiry into his death.

The government had faced a similar situation in October last year when the family of a declared foreigner from Assam’s Nagaon district refused to accept his body. 65-year-old Zubbar Ali died due to ‘illness’ at the Tezpur detention camp. Outraged by his “unexplained” death, Ali’s family initially refused to accept the body and instead asked authorities to send it to where they think the body belongs. Later on, it received the body after being persuaded by the local MLA and other organizations.