ASOTA Testimony: Sahana Ahmed

Sahana Ahmed was served a notice from the Foreigners Tribunal in Assam despite being included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

*All names and personal details have been changed or beeped to protect the survivors’ identity.spent three and a half years in a detention centre in Assam.

Q- What is your name?

A- My name is [BEEP].

Q- What is your birthplace?

A- [BEEP].

Q- Can you recall any memorable incident regarding your place of birth?

A- I went to school, played in playgrounds, and sometimes had to look after cattle as I have no brother. 

Q- You were married in the same village where you were born?

 A- Yes, I was married in the same village where I was born. 

Q- When did you learn about NRC?

A- Around 2012-13.

Q- If NRC affected you and your family in any way then how?

A- Yes, the NRC affected us a lot. We have gone through a lot of trouble while collecting documents. 

Q- From where you have collected your documents?

A- From [BEEP].

Q- What is your estimated expense in collecting documents?

A- It costs a lot, nearly Rs 2-3 lakhs.

Q- Were you asked to appear for an NRC hearing?

A- Yes, I was asked to appear.

Q- Was the Hearing centre far away?

A- Yes, I had to travel to Dakhyin Paar (South Bank of Brahmaputra)

Q- Have you used vehicles to travel?

A- Yes, I used a rented vehicle to travel there.

Q- How much time did it take to travel to the Hearing Centre?

A- It takes a long time, nearly 6-7 hours. 

Q- That means, it consumes your whole day?

A- Yes, it takes a whole day, I can return back only at night. 

Q- Did your name appear in NRC?

A- Yes.

Q- Are you a D-voter?

A- No, I am not a D-voter, I am voting regularly. I have got a notice from the court, so I had to appear before the court also. 

Q- Who served you the notice?

A- Someone went to Hajo, I received the notice from him. 

Q- How did you feel after getting the notice?

A- I felt very bad. I and my family members had stopped taking food after getting the notice, I was sleepless.

Q- Can you recall any important memorable incident from the hearing centre?

A- They were not rude; whatever they asked me, I answered politely. 

Q- Other people have seen you?

A- Yes. I had to sell cows and borrow money, what can be done except that, we have no money. We have spent a lot of money.

Q- After getting notice from FT, how did it affect your family?

A- It affected us a lot, my children left going to school, and they were in fear. I was also afraid. My daughter couldn’t continue her studies, she failed the exam.

Q- Up to which class your daughter studied?

A- Till HS 2nd year.

Q- She didn’t appear in the 2nd year exam?

A- No, she was in tension. She left eating thinking about me. She couldn’t continue her studies. Thus, it caused us great harm. We have sold our lands and cattle, but still the problem is not solved. 

Q- Your case is running now also?

A- Yes. 

Q- For how many days your case is running?

A- It has been running for the last 2 years. 

Q- Till date you are not able to become an Indian citizen?

A- No. 

Q- Is there anyone else in your family with such a case?

A- No. 

Q- What is the number of your brothers and sisters?

A- We are 4 brothers and sisters. There is no issue with anyone, I am only a foreigner. Among so many people I am only facing this meaningless false trouble, it happened with me only, I am the only foreigner. 

Q- Why are you declared as a foreigner?

A- My uncle couldn’t give witness properly, that is why I am now a foreigner. After getting notice I went to the court, I have never seen a lawyer in my life. That is why I was afraid. My Uncle also went with me, and then our case became worse. When I went to the court, my Uncle also accompanied me. He was the witness. I was told why your uncle, after that my case became worse. 

Q- Before the FT case, how was the condition of your family and how is it now?

A- Before the FT case, the condition of my family was much better but it is very worse now.

Q- Why so?

A- We were in tension; we have to spend a lot of money, that is why our condition has become worse now. 

Q- During the corona pandemic, you had to travel a lot for FT hearing, how was it difficult for you?

A- It was very difficult for us, we had to wear masks, and couldn’t travel easily by vehicles.

Q- How did you go for the hearing during the time of Lockdown?

A- We managed some means to travel, used vehicles.

Q- Have you got help from any NGOs or government sources?

A- No, I have got no help from anyone.  

Q- Are you vaccinated against COVID-19?

A- Yes, I am vaccinated. 

Q- Was it free of cost or you were charged money?

A- It was free.  

Q- Have you sold any essentials from your house or property due to the FT case?

A- Yes, we have sold our lands, cows.

Q- Where is your FT case running at present?

A- It is running now at the High Court. 

Q- Do you fear sometimes?

A- Yes, I am very afraid. I have become a patient now. 

Q- How do you eat food?

A- I can’t eat food now, I wake up at midnight and remain sleepless. I feel very bad.