31, May 2021 | CJP Team
The voice of his son still rings sharp in his ears, “Abba they took away Maa!” Abdul Rezzak had just come back home from the market on May 7, 2019, incidentally the first day of Ramadan, to find a huge crowd outside his home. Turns out his wife Doyjan Bibi had been snatched away from them and thrown behind bars in an Assam detention camp!
Doyjan Bibi, daughter of Mohammed Moynal Sheikh, was a resident of Madhusailamari village (Part -ii) that falls under the jurisdiction of Gauripur police station in Dhubri district of Assam. In 1990-91, she married Abdul Rezzak and moved to his home in the same village. They had four children: two sons and two daughters. But it appears a darkness had been cast over the family’s happiness.
Now that the final NRC has been published, and 19,06,657 people have been excluded from the final list, CJP’s campaign has become even more focused. Our objective now, is to help these excluded people defend their citizenship before Foreigners’ Tribunals. We are also helping secure the release of detention camp inmates as per the Supreme Court order on their conditional release. For this we have already started conducting a series of workshops to train paralegals to assist people at FTs. We will also be publishing a multi-media training manual containing simplified aspects of legal procedure, evidentiary rules, and judicial precedents that will ensure the appeals filed against the NRC exclusions in the FTs are comprehensive and sound, both in fact and in law. This will assist our paralegals, lawyers and the wider community in Assam to negotiate this tortuous process. For this we need your continued support. Please donate now to help us help Assam.
Doyjan Bibi’s family’s name appeared in the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) and she had all documents and yet such a fate befell her. Here are copies of her Voter’s ID, name in Voters List and Legacy Data for the NRC:
Yet a reference was made against her under the IMDT Act in 1998, following which a Foreigners’ Tribunal in Dhubri ruled against her. (F.T.C/No- FT.4/71/GPR/17, Ref. C/No. IM(D)T 806/98 – FT 4th, Dhubri)
Rezzak, who had undergone two surgeries for gallbladder was shattered at the sudden snatching away of Doyjan Bibi and remained inconsolable. He went to the Dhubri Border Branch Police Station, but due to lack of knowledge about procedures, and then the pandemic, was constrained to take things forward.
“I was harassed. Nobody listens to me. I became unstable, wondering what to do now,” Rezzak recalls the dark period.
Meanwhile, Doyjan Bibi remembers her fingerprints were taken the next morning when woke up in the Kokrajhar detention camp covered in a blanket.
“The day I was lodged in jail, I couldn’t eat or sleep. I was crying. The next day when I went to the bathroom I fell and got hurt,” recalls Doyjan Bibi, adding, “The police admitted me to the hospital, but imprisoned me again three days later.”
As the parents scrambled to make sense of what was happening to them, the family fell apart. As Rezzak was unable to work due to his illness, the elder son moved to Bangalore and began working, despite being just a child labourer who had passed his tenth standard exams, to put food on the table.
“We are poor, my brother-in-law is also not physically strong. We have spent almost 2 to 2.5 lakh rupees,” says Doyjan Bibi’s brother Ahad Ali. Doyjan didn’t even know that villagers though helped marry off her one of her daughters, “Her one daughter was married when her mother was in the Detention Camp. People donated money for the marriage,” says Ali.
But the younger children were forced to sacrifice their education. This was a big shock for Doyjan, who though uneducated herself, dreamed of educating her children.
“I was thrown behind bars without committing any crime. They stole over two years of my life,” Doyjan Bibi laments, but her greatest regret was something else, “In my absence, my children’s lives were ruined. They couldn’t complete their education!”
But the successive rulings by the Supreme Court and the Gauhati High Court related to release of inmates for decongestion of detention camps in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, offered a ray of hope.
“At that time CJP members contacted me and told me that you don’t have to worry, don’t worry about money. We will help you,” says Rezzak about CJP Team’s support. “I saw how hard they worked, running from one government office to another to help me. They worked tirelessly for us for 20 days.”
With CJP’s help, Doyjan Bibi, now 42-years-old, was released on conditional bail and walked out of the Kokrajhar Detention Camp in Assam on May 28, 2021.
Challenges in securing Doyjan Bibi’s release
“It was really very challenging to find one person named Doyjan out of 24,000 names in that village,” says CJP Assam State In-charge Nanda Ghosh who had given the name to CJP’s Dhubrit District Volunteer Motivator Habibul Bepari. Both worked the phone lines day and night as Covid-19 had affected mobility due to the Lockdown.
Habibul Bepari, then, went to the village and found Abdul Rezzak. The challenge didn’t end there, as it was more challenging to find a bailor and have their documents verified when the Government offices were also shut due to Covid. But CJP’s Assam team soldiered on till they managed to find the documents and submitted them to the Dhubri Border Branch.
“It appears that the officers had not been briefed about changes in procedure with respect to requirement of just one bailor,” says Ghosh who persisted and took them through the latest Gauhati High Court order and ensured they started processing Doyjan Bibi’s application despite initial reluctance on their part. Finally, after the CJP team’s great effort, the paper work was done at Dhubri SP office.
“I left home early in the morning on May 28, to go to the Dhubri SP (B) office as the 160-kilometer journey requires me to cross three districts,” says Ghosh. “Then CJP office Driver cum Camera person Ashikul Ali also brought Dhubri DVM Habibul Bepari from his home in Bidyardauri village (part iii) that falls under Agomoni police station of Dhubri District, which is distance about 43 kms from the SP(B) office),” he adds. They were joined by CJP Dhubri District Legal member Advocate Ishkandar Azad who was handling the legal work for the release of Doyjan Bibi.
Race against time
“It was time to bring back Doyjan Bibi home. CJP’s car was standing by and it was 3:30 P.M. But the police escort part couldn’t arrange a car for over two hours. At 4 P.M we left for Kokrajhar jail cum detention camp. It was a race against time as according to the protocol no one can be released from jail after 5 P.M,” said Ghosh.
But despite multiple obstacles, we were finally able to secure Doyjan Bibi’s release. Though it appeared that her strength was returning as we drew closer to her home, once in her village she broke down and collapsed out of anguish and fatigue. We let her rest, but then our team faced the predicament of returning home as the Lockdown protocol prevented any transportation at night, and it was already 10 P.M.
CJP State Team Member Papiya Das then arranged for our team to stay overnight at her father’s home in Gouripur, located around 25 kilometers from Doyjan Bibi’s village.
The next day i.e on May 29, we once again went to meet Doyjan Bibi who was now feeling better and was able to tell us her story. The family thanked CJP profusely for our help during their darkest times.
Here are a few images showing how we got Doyjan Bibi released: