17, May 2021 | CJP Team
In December 2020, we brought you the story of Amala Das whose husband Gopesh died in what was a clear case of institutional murder. CJP had then secured temporary bail for Amala so that she could complete her husband’s last rites. Now, after five months, CJP has helped Amala secure release from the Kokrajhar detention camp on bail.
After Independence, Amala’s father Haricharan Das migrated to India from what was East Pakistan at the time. He even had a Citizenship Registration Certificate in his name dated 1951. In 1957, Haricharan purchased land that Amala ended up inheriting in 2014. There are documents of land purchase as well as transfer of ownership.
But none of these were deemed satisfactory by the Chirang Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) that declared Amala a ‘foreigner’ in 2017. She was sent to the Kokrajhar detention camp.
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. 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.
The couple, Gopesh and Amala Das, were residents of Bamnijhora village that falls under the jurisdiction of the Panbari police station in Chirang district of Assam. They have four sons and three daughters, who are marginal farmers and daily-wage workers.
With his wife of forty years forced to spend life behind bars, 63-year-old Gopesh started losing hope and feeling helpless. For close to two years, her release was the only thing on Gopesh’s mind. But when nothing worked in his wife’s favour and she continued to remain behind bars, Gopesh died… his death an institutional murder.
On December 15, Gopesh spoke to Amala over the phone one last time. Amala’s only regret, “I wish I could have seen him one last time.” Amala was allowed to leave the detention camp for one day to complete some religious rituals for her deceased husband, due to CJP’s intervention.
Now CJP has managed to secure Amala’s release on bail in line with directions issued by the Supreme Court as well as the Gauhati High Court for release of detention camp inmates in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was a challenging task. According to CJP Assam State Incharge Nanda Ghosh, “The Gauhati High Court has only recently ordered that the number of sureties required for release be reduced to just one. This was not an option back when we were trying to organise bailers for Amala. The challenge was in not only getting two sureties, but ensuring all their documents were in order and verified.” Ghosh further explains, “There was already a challenge due to Covid-19 and then we had assembly elections in the state. All of this led to delays. But after three months of hard work, we were finally able to get Amala Das out of the Kokrajhar detention Camp.”
The CJP team working on the case included: Adv. Dewan Abdur Rahim from our legal team, State office Incharge Papiya Das, office driver cum camera person Ashikul Ali, Community Volunteers Sanjay Saha, Ajay Basak, Bittu Roy and Rajib Barman. CJP would also like to thank Sukhdeb Rajbongshi (ABBYSF), Sujit Barman, Uday Das and bailors: Narayan Chandra Mandal and Manik Namo Das.
After being released, an emotionally overwrought Amala who feels crushed by Gopesh’s death, said, “I have come back to an empty home. The one I lived for, isn’t alive anymore.” Amala is also extremely frail and often falls sick. She fears that she might not have the strength to make the weekly visit to the local police station that is a key condition of her bail.
Amala Das’s release order and a few pictures of her release procedure may be viewed here: