‘Mistaken identity’: Labelled ‘foreigner’, Assam woman set free after three years


PTI, Jun 27, 2019, 1:44 PM IST

Guwahati: Three years after being labelled a ‘foreigner’ and sent to a detention camp in Assam, a 59-year-old woman has been released with police admitting she was a victim of mistaken identity and officials had picked up the wrong person.

Madhubala Mandal, a widow, returned home to her hearing-impaired daughter on Wednesday evening, shortly after being freed from a camp for illegal immigrants in Kokrajhar.

Visuals of a frail Mandal, looking older beyond her years, sitting with security personnel as she was driven to her home in Bishnupur were circulated widely as news spread about her being wrongly confined in a camp.

She was released after police admitted before a Foreigners’ Tribunal that they sent Mandal to the detention camp instead of a Madhumala Das who was declared a foreigner by the Tribunal in 2016.

Both women belong to Bishnupur in Chirang district.

“When I received a complaint that Madhubala Mandal has become a victim of mistaken identity and sent to a detention centre, I constituted an inquiry and the facts came out. It was a case of mistaken identity,” Chirang District Superintendent of Police Sudhakar Singh told the media.

Singh informed the police headquarters and moved the Foreigners Tribunal in Chirang for corrective action.

“The tribunal on June 25 issued an order to release her,” he said.

According to villagers in the area, Madhumala Das and her husband Makhan Nama Das had died long before the tribunal had issued the notice.

“The tribunal issued the notice in the name of Madhumala Das but the police apprehended Madhubala Mandal and sent her to the detention camp,” a member of Das’ family told reporters.

All Assam Bengali Youth Student Federation member Deepak Dey added that Mandal was picked up after an ex parte order by the tribunal declared Das as a foreigner in 2016.

In May, Kargil war veteran Mohammad Sanaullah was picked up and sent to a detention camp in Goalpara district after a tribunal declared him as a ‘foreigner’.

Following his family’s writ petition along with an interlocutory application, the Gauhati High Court granted him bail and he was released from the detention camp.

Mandal’s release came on the day over one lakh people were excluded from the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam after they were found ineligible, adding to the 40 lakh names left out of the list published on July 30 last year.

According to a statement issued by the state coordinator of NRC, 1,02,462 persons were declared ineligible during the process of verification carried out by the Local Registrars of Citizens Registration (LRCRs).

The list is being updated for the first time since 1951 to identify illegal migration into Assam. The NRC is being updated under the monitoring of the Supreme Court and the final list is scheduled to be released on July 31.

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