New Delhi: Moni Kumar Subba, a Congress MP, is being accused of being a Nepali citizen. But the suspicion over his nationality has not stopped him from becoming a Congress Member of Parliament from Tezpur, Assam.
The Supreme Court, hearing a case that has challenged his status as an Indian, has given Subba time till April 20 to prove his Indian nationality.
Over the years, there have been reports that Subba was, in fact, a murder convict in Nepal, and he was imprisoned from 1971 to 1973 before he escaped to India.
After settling down in India, Subba set up a successful gambling and lottery business, systematically erasing his Nepali past. He even managed to get elected to the august House of Parliament, not once but twice.
A CNN-IBN Special Investigation team probing his roots has dug up evidence to show that in India, Subba began all of this by lying about his place of birth in the first place. In Lok Sabha records, Subba is perhaps the only MP to have two different places of birth.
The Subba dossier in the 12th Lok Sabha records his place of birth as Tezpur, Assam, his date of birth being March 16, 1951. But his dossier for the current (14th) Lok Sabha shows his place of birth as Dabgram (Darjeeling) in West Bengal, and the date of birth as March 16, 1958.
When the CNN-IBN Special Investigation team went to Dabgram to check the veracity of these records, it found nothing to confirm that it was Subba’s birthplace. In Assam, the CNN-IBN team tracked down Karma Kanu, who was Subba's third wife from 1978 to 1991. And Kanu has an entirely different story to tell.
"Hum to pehli baari sun raha hai ye naam. Dabgram to maine kabhi nahi suna hai. Agar vo Dabgram ka hai, to vahan par koi hona chahiye uska. Uska koi rishtedaar nahi hai vahan. (I have heard of this place for the first time. I never heard of this name before. If he belongs to Dabgram, there has to be someone who is related to him)," Kanu says.
Kanu now lives in Harmoti, a village in Lakhimpur district of Assam. Official documents mention Harmoti as Subba’s permanent residence as well.
Kanu met the CNN-IBN team secretly, clearly afraid to talk about Subba. "Jabardasti se to thoda darna bhi pardta hai na. Mein to Assam mein hai. Hai ki nahi? Yahan to koi bhi nahi hai mera (You have to be afraid of people who use force. I am in Assam, you see. And there is nobody here to help me)," she says.
In Delhi, when the CNN-IBN team approached Subba, he tried to play down these contradictions. And his reaction was recorded on a hidden camera.
The documents that nail Subba's lies:
Neeti:Aur aapka jo 1991 ka election nomination paper hain, usi mein likha hai ki aap Tezpur mein paida huen hain. Yahan mein likha huan hain ki aap Dabgram mein. (In your nomination papers for 1991 elections, you said you were born in Tezpur and in your papers for 2004 polls, you said you were born in Dabgram).
Subba: Chhodo. Vo sab kya dhyan. Kya likha hain, kya nahin likha. Humne to likha hi nahi. (Forget it. Why do you want to bring in what’s written there and what's not? I didn't write it in the first place.)
Interestingly, in an interview published in a Nepali Magazine, Rato Gham, in November, 1997, Subba claimed he was born in Mongolpuri, Delhi, in 1946.
If one is to go by all these records, Subba was born thrice, in 1946, 1951 and again in 1958.
The CNN-IBN team, which travelled to Assam to check Subba's original nomination papers in a bid to unravel the mystery, found shocking inconsistencies in the documents that he had filed along with his nomination papers.
For instance, in his nomination paper for the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, Subba records his age as 54 years. But in a counter-affidavit filed by him in the Supreme Court in 2005 in the case challenging his nationality, Subba says he was 47-years-old then.
Subba is not really bothered about the fact that he lied to the Supreme Court.
Neeti: Matlab aapne jhooth bola court mein? (This means you lied to the court?)
Subba: Jhooth ka baat nahi hai... (This is not about lying.)
Neeti: Aapke samne hai sir, affidavit pe hai! Aapka sign hai, aapka kagaz hai.. dekhiye! Yahan par aapka hai…47 years, 1997 mein. Voter list mein agar galat hai.. to aap jhooth bol rahe hain matlab. (It's right in front of you, Sir. These are your papers. All of them bear your signature. According to the records, you were 47 in 1997. If your age in the voter list is wrong, then obviously you are lying)
(Subba takes document in his hand)
Subba: Voter list mein jo hai, vohi bolna padega... (I have to quote what's there in the voter's list, you see.)
If one is to take into account all these records, Moni Kumar Subba —a two-time Lok Sabha MP —was born four times at three different places.
And as per the records, he will be 49, 56, 57 and 61-years-old in 2007. But strangely, Parliament seems to believe him too.
(With Sudesh Bhatt)
The documents that nail Subba's lies: