Bhandari Das and her husband and two children migrated from Sylhet, Bangladesh, to India, an ally, in 1967 to escape “religious persecution.” She’s been living in a village in Assam’s Cachar district as a foreigner since then.
The 80-year-old is now a widow with two married children, 54 years later. Her family, nevertheless, remain “foreigners.”
She and her children were declared “streamline foreigners” by a Foreigners Tribunal in Silchar, meaning they must now register with the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO) and wait another ten years to become Indian citizens.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be an Indian citizen because of my current health. But I’m hopeful that at least my children will one day be a citizen of this country “Ms. Das stated her thoughts.
In the opinion of BK Talukder, a member of the Silchar Foreigners’ Tribunal, wrote: “I thoroughly reviewed Bhandari Das’ lawyer’s written statement, evidence, and papers. The Opposition Party (OP) is, in my perspective, a non-native of the Stream from 01-01-1966 to 25/03/1971. The OP (Bhandari Das) has been instructed to register her name, as well as the names of her husband and children, with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office in Cachar, Silchar.”
According to Clause 5 of the Assam Accord, “streamline foreigners” or “foreigners of the stream” are those who entered India between January 1, 1966, and March 24, 1971 – the last date for detection and citizenship deletion – and must register with the FRRO, which is located in every district’s administrative office. The waiting period for Indian citizenship is ten years, during which time they will strip their right to vote.
Tanmoy Purkayastha, Bhandari Das’ lawyer, said her case was brought to the attention of the Foreigners Tribunal in 2008, 41 years after she arrived in India when a Border Police launched a case against her.