While, we have encountered several heart-rending instances of death and despair in our work helping people of Assam defend their Indian citizenship, we were particularly shaken by the case of Hasan Ali – a man pushed to the brink of reason, just because a government employee was careless. The fact that unprofessionalism could cost a man his life, is a reality that haunts our fellow Indian citizens in Assam,
In many of the cases the CJP team has handled in Assam, the lives of detention centre inmates change significantly by the time they are released. Many go back to empty homes and memories of loved ones who have passed. The story of Purnima Biswas too, had a bittersweet ending.
It’s been a long arduous journey of emotional lows and highs, for CJP’s Team Assam. The sheer administrative callousness causing the hapless and marginalised to suffer a civil death and be rendered non-Indians is a bitter learning for us all. So, ever since CJP started working towards helping our fellow Indians defend their citizenship in Assam, we have come across many instances where people were declared foreigner and sent to a detention centre only because of a minor discrepancy in their data as entered in different government records. But Saken Ali’s case took this to a completely different level!
Each case that we encounter in Assam, around the ongoing citizenship crisis, has its own human angle and a shocking twist; an administrative dis-regard for document-related discrepancies, an absence of rationality or even basic common sense. Several shocking displays, then, of sheer institutional apathy. But none shook us more than what happened to Seje Bala Ghosh, the septuagenarian daughter of a freedom fighter.
The denial of citizenship is much like a civil death as the ‘right to have rights’ is arbitrarily snatched away by an unfeeling State. In our work upholding and defending the rights of our fellow Indians in Assam, we came across many instances of mysterious deaths of detention camp inmates. Seemingly healthy people, suddenly dropping dead. Then there were people who succumbed to a bout of ill health brought about by poor hygiene and over all bad conditions in the detention camps.
During our work, upholding and defending the rights of our fellow Indians in Assam, we came across many instances of unlettered housewives, even elderly women, being victimised by a document-dependent system that fails to take into account ground realities in rural India. 73-year-old Parbati Das was thrown into a detention camp because she had no acceptable documentary evidence of being her parents’ daughter!
Behind each of these artistically designed posters is a real person, facing the very real challenge of having to prove their citizenship to a cynical State. CJP has been assisting them in every way possible, but for our efforts to reach more of those affected, we need you. Help us help Assam. Please donate generously.
We can only accept donations from Indian citizens. For any query please email us at [email protected].
I’m a Delhi based independent multi-discipline, mixed-media artist, designer, writer, researcher, treasure hunter, fallen angel, soul searcher and an Ambedkarite. My work is to encourage people to live deeply, love fearlessly, and to appreciate this heavenly place called Earth.