After a protracted legal battle lasting six years, Dulubi Bibi, a 50-year-old woman from Assam, originally declared an illegal migrant from Bangladesh due to discrepancies in her names on voter lists, has successfully reclaimed her Indian citizenship.
According to reports by NDTV, a resident of Udharbond in Cachar district, Bibi was classified as a foreign migrant by the Foreigners Tribunal in 2017 in Assam's Silchar district due to inconsistencies in her names across various voter lists.
The incident occurred on March 20, 2017, during a hearing related to a case from 1998, initially brought under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act. This case was subsequently re-registered under the Foreigners Tribunals Act in 2015.
Dulubi Bibi was labelled as a Bangladeshi despite her grandparents being Indian citizens. She then spent two years in the Silchar detention centre, and as a Muslim woman from a conservative family, she worked as a cook before going to the detention centre.
The Foreigners Tribunal, a quasi-judicial entity responsible for determining the citizenship status of individuals residing in Assam, similarly identified irregularities in the names of her father and grandparents within the voter lists. Consequently, she was apprehended in April 2018 and subsequently placed in a detention centre located in Silchar.
Bail & Consequent Release
After spending two years within the confines of the detention camp, Bibi secured her release on bail in April 2020, in accordance with an order from the Supreme Court. In May 2023, she contested the Foreigners Tribunal's 2017 decision in the Guwahati High Court.
Throughout the tribunal proceedings, Dulubi Bibi asserted that she possessed sufficient evidence to substantiate her lineage to her grandfather, whose name was documented in various voter lists dated prior to 1965.
The same tribunal member, BK Talukdar, who had previously labelled her as an illegal immigrant in 2017, ultimately determined her to be an Indian citizen.
In his previous ruling, Talukdar had noted that Bibi was unable to establish that she and her father were born in India and had been living within its borders before 1971. Consequently, the tribunal concluded that she had entered India unlawfully.
But Talukdar changed her decision after he was persuaded by the evidence presented and the arguments made during the proceedings.
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