West Bengal couple avoids affix surname for newborn

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BY NIBEDITA SEN
What is in a Surname?? As surname is associated with caste and religion, a couple who do not practice either, chose to nomenclate their baby as ‘Anish Sangkalpa
An atheist couple from Nabadwip, Pratap Chandra Das and Mousumi Debnath, who live in Sarkarpara decided to avoid affixing a surname for their newborn as it creates divisions in society.
On June 25, the Nabdwip Municipality had refused to issue a birth certificate to a young couple for their newborn son because they did not affix a surname to his name in the prescribed application.
“I met chairman Biman Krishna Saha who refused to issue the certificate without a surname. I humbly reminded him no government agency can compel us to write anything associated with religion. But he refused to listen and advised to produce legal reference or no objection letter or any circular issued by the appropriate authority in support of my claim”, said Pratap, who is secretary of Nabadwip unit of Bharatiya Bigyan O Yuktibadi Samity.
Later, the couple claimed that the denial of the birth certificate for not writing the surname is a violation of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution which provides Freedom of practice and propagation of religion.
“We do not believe in the philosophy of caste and religion, which are amply indicated by a surname. We practice no religion and our views are supported by the provision of Article 25”, Pratap said.
Reminding that couple should have dropped their surname first submitting an appeal for the birth certificate of their son, Chairman Biman Krishna Saha said, “The appeal is unconventional which I never heard before. Moreover, there is no prescribed format to issue such a certificate. Nevertheless, I am ready to issue it if the applicant produces any legal reference or order from appropriate authority.”
Meanwhile, in a decision that can be regarded as a big boost to the societal norms, the sub-divisional Officer of the designated area looked into the matter and issued a birth certificate on July 8 to the Nabadwip based couple for their newborn son who were earlier denied it by the local Municipality authorities for not affixing a surname to the name of the child in the prescribed application format.
 “Deciding the name of a minor falls exclusively under the domain of fundamental and legal rights of his natural or legal guardians and the state has no locus standi in this matter,” Krishnanagar Sadar Manish Verma said.
Although Nabadwip Municipality chairman Bimankrishna Saha, refused to offer any further comment on the issue, unconventional parents were overjoyed.
“I am very much thankful to the Nadia administration who has admitted my point and acted upon fast to issue the birth certificate of my son,” Pratap said.
 In the age of growing anxiety over identities, conforming to global naming standards can help clear confusion.