Ahead of the publication of the National Register of Citizens in Assam, at least a dozen people who have been declared foreigners have been released from detention following a Supreme Court order. The order called for the release of declared foreigners who have spent over three years in detention.
A 53-year-old man has finally returned home after over four years in a detention camp in the state's Goalpara jail. In 2010, Robi Dey was marked as a doubtful voter on Assam's voter list - four years back he was declared a foreigner by a tribunal. Over three hundred like Robi Dey will be set free after the court order.
"We were treated not that bad inside jail. We were given food two times a day. We don't need to do any labour though and we were kept in separate cells and not with criminals. We had a hope that some day we will be released since we are Indian citizens," Robi Dey said.
While the declared foreigners, who have spent more than three years in detention, have been released - this is a conditional bail and meeting the conditions is a tough ask for families like that of the Deys. The family had to produce two guarantees and sign a surety bond; their biometric data was recorded and Robi Dey has to appear at a local police station once a week after release.
His wife, two sons all have migrated for work. His 72-year-old brother Motilal admitted that they migrated from Bangladesh in 1964, much ahead of the 1971 deadline of NRC. He claims declaring someone a foreigner is a business of sorts in Assam.
"For the family members of a declared foreigner it is a nightmare. There is only one worry how to get our people out of detention and it's a business of sorts in Assam to make people foreigners," said Motilal Dey.
Batchu Seikh, a daily wager, says people don't want to give him work after he was released from detention after 5 years.
"Since I was kept in jail, people don't want to give me work. How will I feed my family," he narrates his ordeal.
The list will be out on August 31 that would give relief to a number of doubtful citizens of the state.
Although released on bail, these declared foreigners and their descendants won't make it to final NRC, but their ordeals inside jails and the struggle of their families might soon become a reality for lakhs excluded in the final Citizen's list.
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