Assam: CJP brings relief to a family’s struggle for their lost identity CJP’s team once again comes to the aid of a family that was repeatedly affected by the Assam’s citizenship crisis after a year-long legal battle

18, Jan 2024 | CJP Team

In the quiet village of Milan Nagar Santipur, Assam, a family’s long-standing struggle for recognition as Indian citizens reached a final outcome in December 2023.

The late Jahanuddin Sheikh, his widow Ramila Begum, and their two sons, Ashad Ali and Rofikul Islam, were finally declared Indian by Assam’s Goalpara Foreigners Tribunal with the unwavering efforts of the Citizens for Justice and Peace’s team.

Every week, CJP’s dedicated team in Assam, comprising community volunteers, district volunteer motivators, and lawyers, provides vital paralegal support, counseling, and legal aid to many affected by the citizenship crisis in over 24 districts in Assam.  Through our hands-on approach, 12,00,000 people successfully submitted completed NRC forms (2017-2019). We fight Foreigner Tribunal cases monthly at the district level.  Through these concerted efforts, we have achieved an impressive success rate of 20 cases annually, with individuals successfully obtaining their Indian citizenship. This ground level data ensures informed interventions by CJP in our Constitutional Courts. Your support fuels this crucial work. Stand with us for Equal Rights for All #HelpCJPHelpAssam. Donate NOW!

Photo of Ramila Begum inside her home

The journey towards this legal victory was not easy and was riddled with challenges for the family. Ramila, aged 57 and the widow of late Jahanuddin Sheikh, had found herself stuck in the tangles of a Foreigners Tribunal notice she received for being suspected of being a foreigner. This was a surprise as she has a substantial record of her own family’s Indian lineage. She was accused of illegally entering India in the period India spanning from 1966 to 1971. This claim was contested by the CJP’s legal team which was led by team’s dedicated advocates named Ashim Mubarak, DVM Zeshmin Sultana, and Rashminara Begum. The legal team stated to the Tribunal that the investigating officer had failed to conduct a house visit or make any requests for documentation that could prove her citizenship. The team argued that the investigating officer did not investigate the case fairly or in an unbiased manner, and had submitted the case against them without proper proof. 

The late Jahanuddin Sheikh, who passed away in 2013 was also accused, with the rest of his family, of entering India illegally. CJP’s legal team presented a detailed set of documents in the case which spanned from 1965 to 2023 and showed the family’s undeniable Indian roots and presence at the disputed periods. Ramila’s parents and grandparents also hailed from the Jotsorobdi village in Goalpara and the team proved this in court by furnishing their land deeds, voter lists dating back to 1966 as well as other supporting documents.

This case became easier after it was established that both husband and wife has individual roots and documented presence in India prior to their marriage. Furthermore, Ramila’s marriage to Jahanuddin Sheikh in 1990 further cemented her ties to Indian citizenship. Voter lists from 1997 to 2022, along with a linkage certificate issued in 2015, made their arguments even more robust. Their sons Ashad Ali and Rofikul Islam were equally supported by a trove of documents, including registered sale deeds, voter lists, and a judgement dated 15/02/2016. The family belongs to the Goria Community which is recognised as an indigenous Muslim group in Assam by the Cabinet of the Assam Government. 

Ramila’s journey has been one that is marked by hardships. As a single mother of two, she faced the challenges of providing for her family, particularly after the passing of her husband, who had remarried and had other children prior to his death. Ramila used to earn her livelihood as a daily wage labourer while supporting her children at the same time. Thus, her life was never an easy walk. Similarly, the citizenship crisis wreaked havoc on her not once, but twice. In 2022, she was accused of being a foreigner. It was only after eight months of relentless efforts by the CJP team, that February 2023 became a turning point in Ramila’s life after eight months of hard work with the team when she was declared an India. The tribunal finally acknowledged her Indian citizenship. However, her troubles did not end there and she received a notice from the Border Force of being suspected as a foreigner once again, and this time, along with her entire family despite being declared an Indian. However, CJP’s legal team did not let this new hurdle tarnish the family’s hopes and they took it up as well by stepping in once again. 

Finally, in December 2023, CJP succeeded in securing the declaration of Indian citizenship for Ramila and her family.  CJP’s team, including Nanda Ghosh, Advocate Ashim Mubarak, DVM Zeshmin Sultana, and Rashminara Begum, personally visited the family’s home to hand over the judgement copy. Ramila, who was overwhelmed with gratitude, said to Team CJP, “May Allah bless you. I have been praying for this!”

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This legal victory stands not only as a testament to the perseverance of one family but also as a beacon of hope for those unjustly caught in the web of complexities and suffering that are surrounding the citizenship crisis in Assam which has been noted to largely affect the marginalised adversely.  

The order may be read here:



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