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Legislator logged out of voters’ list

Patna, Sept. 3: In India, it is not rare that a person does not find his name on the voters’ list, but Nagina Devi is no rare citizen of India.

In fact, she is not a citizen of the country at all, if the Bihar administration is to be believed.

For, Nagina Devi is the Lok Janshakti Party legislator from Bathnaha who has not been able to furnish any “documentary evidence to prove her Indian citizenship”.

Sitamarhi sub-divisional officer Bharat Jha, the ex-officio electoral registration officer, said the MLA could not be declared an Indian citizen just because she was married to an Indian. Under Section 5 of the Indian Citizenship Act, being married to an Indian does not naturally qualify one to become an Indian citizen.

Nagina Devi is a Nepal citizen. She was married to Jogiraj Prasad of Sitamarhi in 1972 and she had been living here ever since.

Jha said: “The legislator failed to produce documentary evidence to prove her Indian citizenship. I ordered her name be removed from the voters’ list last Friday.” He added that Nagina Devi had been also asked to explain how her name had figured on the list. Her name first appeared on the electoral list of Sitamarhi in 1995.

Jha said Nagina Devi had explained that “she was born in 1958 at her grandmother’s house at Bhagwanpur village in Bathnaha and hence, she was an Indian on the basis of her birth in India”. She, however, did not submit any documentary evidence to prove her claims till August 24, he said.

The matter was first brought to notice in May after a home ministry report raised questions on Nagina Devi’s Indian citizenship. The report said only an Indian citizen could contest an election in the country. The Centre’s report came after the then Sitamarhi district magistrate, Suman Kumar, submitted a report on Nagina Devi’s citizen to the home ministry on a complaint by a political leader.

Kumar confirmed that he had submitted a report to the home ministry saying Nagina Devi was found changing her name in voter lists from time to time. Kumar said: “Her name has been struck off from voters’ list as she could not furnish documents of her birth in India. The MLA had been given adequate time and now the district administration had to submit its compliance report to state chief electoral officer.”

Nagina Devi, however, told The Telegraph: “I was asked to appear before the SDO on August 24. But the entire administration, including the SDO’s office, was busy with a chief minister function in Sitamarhi on that day. I was ready with my lawyer and documents but I was not heard. How could the SDO pass the order on August 24 itself without giving me a hearing' I was not also communicated in writing or verbally about my name being struck off from the voters’ list.” She said that she would collect a copy of the order and take legal opinions to prove her Indian citizenship. She, however, did not suggest any political vendetta.

State home secretary Afzal Amanullah said that it was for the Election Commission to decide if Nagina Devi was an Indian or not.

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