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Bangladesh migrant ‘suicide’ linked to citizenship fear

The police have sent the body for post-mortem at Burdwan Medical College and Hospital
Shipra Shikdar

Snehamoy Chakraborty   |   Burdwan   |   Published 14.12.19, 07:05 PM

A 36-year-old woman who had come to Bengal from Bangladesh has allegedly hanged herself after she spent “two nights in continuous worry” over how to collect documents to prove her Indian citizenship.

Shipra Shikdar was found hanging at her home in East Burdwan’s Jougram early on Saturday morning. Jougram is home to over 2,000 former residents of Bangladesh — mostly Hindus. The migration had started in the 1970s and they are the backbone of the day wage labour force at the village.

The villagers said on Saturday that when they had learned that 13 lakh Hindus had been excluded from the National Register of Citizens in Assam, they had lost all hope.

“We have definitely lost hope that we are safe here and that we will be given citizenship prior to the implementation of the NRC,” said a villager.

Sources said Shipra was formerly a resident of Barishal in Bangladesh and had come to India with her husband Subhas shortly after the birth of her son Kamal in 1990. Neighbours said he had first taken up residence at the home of her brother-in-law, Bipul Shikdar, which is a practice of the migrants.

Bipul had also migrated from Barishal in 1978.

“Shipra was mainly concerned about her son. Although they did not have papers going back to the 1970s, she was frantic about securing something for him. On Saturday morning, we found her hanging from the ceiling,” said Bipul.

“Her son Kamal was born in Bangladesh and has no documents. So, she had been going from office to office in the last two days hoping some officials would help her,” he added.

Another relative said: “She had spent two nights in continuous worry over the documents.”

The residents of Jougram said exclusion of Hindus in Assam from the NRC had left majority of the migrants disillusioned. “The NRC led to Shipra’s death. The rest of us here are seeing Assam as a precedent for what will happen to us,” said neighbour Bimal Mondal.

“We have Aadhaar and voter cards, but now, we are convinced that these are not enough to save us,” he added.

Police have refused to confirm if Shikdar’s death was linked to the citizenship fear.

“We have come to know about it. A case of unnatural death has been started and we will begin a probe to find out the cause,” said Bhaskar Mukherjee, district police chief of East Burdwan.

The police have sent the body for post-mortem at Burdwan Medical College and Hospital.

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