10, Apr 2021 | CJP Team
Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), in its continuing efforts to help some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people of Assam, has now taken on a challenging new case. We are helping Champa Basfore secure the release of her mother Shanti from the Kokrajhar detention camp where she has been languishing since May 2019.
Shanti, a Dalit woman, aged about 60 years, is a resident of Ramraikuti (Part-2) village that falls under the jurisdiction of Agomani police station in Dhubri district. Her home is located only half a kilometer from the Indo-Bangladesh border, and far away from urban centers like Assam’s capital city of Guwahati that is 300 kilometers away.
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.
Brief background of the case
Shanti’s father, Panjabi Basfore, was a permanent resident of Ward 8 that falls under Police Reserve Dhubri in the same district. He had his 1956 legacy data in his own name. But after he died, Shanti was married away when she was still in her teens to Badonlal Basfore. The couple’s names appear in the voters’ list.
Panjabi Basfore’s legacy data may be viewed here:
Shanti and her husband Badonlal’s name in the voters’ list may be viewed here:
A reference was made against her and in November 2017, she was served notice asking her to appear before the Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) in Dhubri in December 2017. The FT notice may be viewed here:
But owing to either ignorance or poverty, Shanti failed to appear before the FT and was declared foreigner ex parte. She was subsequently sent to the Kokrajhar detention camp. The FT order may be viewed here:
CJP team meets Shanti’s family
When a CJP team comprising CJP Assam State Incharge Nanda Ghosh, Dhubri District Volunteer Motivator Habibul Bepari and two community volunteers, Hossein Ali and Ujjal Dey, visited her family on April 7, this year, we discovered that she had enough documents to defend her citizenship. Moreover, as per the provisions laid down by the Supreme Court in its order regarding release of detainees from detention camps in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Shanti is close to completing the minimum mandatory detention period of two years required to be eligible for bail. CJP has now decided to help Shanti secure release from the detention camp on bail.
We met her daughter Champa, who though only 33 years-old, could easily be mistaken for a 50 year old woman. “I might have aged prematurely due to the stress of my mother being behind bars,” she said. But CJP’s support has sparked new hope in her and she told her mother about our efforts when they last met.
“My mother is counting days. She has hope now and is praying that the CJP team succeeds,” Champa told us.
The task ahead
Our next challenge is finding bailors for Shanti Basfore. Firstly, people often tend to be reluctant when they are required to get involved in legal matters. If they do agree, they must meet the following criteria:
- They must be citizens of India
- Their name must appear in the National Register of Citizens (NRC)
- They must have permanent land patta (land ownership document) in either their name or in the name of their family member whose name is also included in the NRC
- They must possess a Jamabandi document (proof of land ownership)
- They must have land valuation certificate
- They should have receipts of land tax payment
- They should have legacy data
- They should have certified copy of voters’ list with their name in it
- They should have valid voter identification card
CJP will not only arrange for two bailors, but also ensure all their documents are verified and all paperwork, affidavits etc. are in order before we apply for Shanti’s bail. This is a tedious process, which often requires multiple trips to the Mandal Department in the Circle Office and the Sub Divisional (Civil) Office. Often bailors are rejected at the last minute due to minor discrepancies in their documents. Read more about all that goes into helping secure a person’s release from a detention camp here.
Champa Basfore initially felt overwhelmed by the process, but calmed down after Nanda Ghosh offered her counselling, and the assurance that CJP will work tirelessly to help secure her mother’s release. “I never thought that I could get her released. I don’t have even that much money to go to see her in Kokrajhar. But now because of CJP, I am going to have her by my side,” said Champa with renewed hope.