Bangladeshi woman held for staying illegally in Bareilly for 35 years
She is behind bars, fighting a legal battle for her release and stay back in India after she was arrested on Sunday when her nationality was exposed during passport verification process, say police
LUCKNOW A request from a 55-year-old woman in Bareilly seeking a passport to visit Bangladesh unravelled a 35-year-old cross-border love story. Everything was going well with Anita Devi, 55, and Mangal Sen, 60, as they had been living a happy married life for over three decades and had five children (now all adults), until the woman decided to visit her home to see her ailing mother a few days back.
Anita is now behind bars in Bareilly jail, fighting a legal battle for her release and stay back in India after she was arrested on Sunday (December 3) when her nationality was exposed during passport verification process, said police.
The incident was reported in Udaipur village under Deorania police station limits of Bareilly when Anita and Mangal applied for a passport to visit Bangladesh. “I had suspicion over her nationality when we cross-checked details mentioned in her application form. She had mentioned her native place as Narayanpur Nazran under Saharsa police station of
Jessore district of Bangladesh,” said sub-inspector Rehmat Ali of Deorania police station.
He said Anita Devi’s original name was Anita Das, daughter of late Keshav Das.
Ali said he informed his seniors and lodged an FIR against the woman for violation of Foreigners Act, 1946, after getting a report against her from Local Intelligence Unit. The S-I is the complainant in the FIR lodged in the matter with Deorania police station on December 3. HT had the copy of the FIR downloaded from the UP Police app.
The S-I mentioned in the FIR that the woman entered Indian territory through the porous India-Bangladesh border in 1988 when she was 20 years of age.
She did this with the help of some human traffickers to work as domestic help and reached Bareilly while travelling through different states. She fell in love with one Mangal Sen, who worked as a labourer, and stayed back in India after marrying him, added Ali.
In the FIR, he also alleged that the woman was living illegally in India for the last 35 years.
A resident of Udaipur village said Anita was a simple woman and living here for many years. “After the arrest of the woman, the entire family — her husband and children – is disturbed and running from pillar to post to resolve the issue. They could not imagine her languishing in jail,” he reiterated.
A senior official of Bareilly Local Intelligence Unit said there was a set protocol in such cases to arrest illegal immigrants and alert the Intelligence Bureau about her stay in Bareilly.
Further investigation in the matter was on while legal opinion was sought on whether Anita should be deported back to her native country despite being married to an Indian national or she be allowed to stay here if she was not found involved in any kind of illegal or anti-national activity, said Devendra Singh Dhama, inspector of Deorania police station.
Though there was negligence on part of the woman, she should be given an opportunity to apply for Indian citizenship as she is mother of Indian citizens, said Lucknow-based international legal practitioner Harjot Singh. He said Article 21 of the Indian Constitution allows her to apply for Indian citizenship while she would also be covered under Commonwealth Citizenship as she was staying in India since before 2004.
“Her family should immediately file the petition under the given provisions and apply for her bail,” he emphasized.