27, Jul 2020 | CJP Team
67-year old Jabed Ali walked out of the Kokrajhar Detention Camp in Assam on July 22, 2020, after spending a total of over 12 years in captivity. He is the 33rd person to be released from a detention camp due to CJP’s efforts. This is his story.
Jabed Ali, a daily-wage labourer, hails from Nilibari village that falls under the jurisdiction of Dhaligaon police station in Chirang district. Years ago, he was implicated in a crime along with a few others. Villagers though insist that he was not even present at the time of the incident. However, Ali was convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
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.
But if that wasn’t bad enough, his life took a more unfortunate turn as even while he was in prison, the Border Police suspected him of being a foreigner and subsequently a Foreigners’ Tribunal ruled that he was a ‘declared foreigner’. Thus, shortly after he was released after completing his sentence on July 18, 2018, he was promptly packed off to a detention camp.
While time stood still in jail for Jabed Ali, life continued for his wife Asiya Khatun, and the four children; three sons and a daughter, he left behind. Ali’s youngest son said, “When my father went to jail, I was reading in class 3. I was very young. I got married while my father was in detention camp, and I just had one child now!”
Jabed Ali’s only daughter Rukiya Khatun is also married now. His eldest son Hayed Ali and youngest son Sayed Ali are also married now, who were left minors, while he was jailed 12 years ago. In all, Jabed Ali now has three grandchildren, Mahbul Haque, Hasina Khatun and Morjina Khatun.
But he was reunited with his family after being released on conditional bail. This happened after CJP intervened and helped process his application and documents.
Challenges faced in securing release
At present 31 out of Assam’s 33 districts are severely affected by floods. Over 35 lakh people from 2,800 villages are affected and 1.12 lakh hectares of land including agricultural and forest land has been inundated. People in Assam have been struggling for over a month! It was during this natural disaster that the CJP team went about with efforts to secure bail for Jabed Ali.
The CJP team led by Assam State In-charge Nanda Ghosh and District Volunteer Motivator Abul Kalam Azad, worked under the guidance of CJP Assam State Adviser Zamser Ali for one month and twenty days to find two suitable bailors, gather necessary documents and get them verified. Advocate Dewan Abdul Rahim helped put together all the legal paperwork. But all this was severely impeded and delayed due to floods and the Covid-19 lockdown.
After Jabed Ali’s release
Jabed Ali became emotional when he saw the faces of everyone in the family, although he was completely speechless. He couldn’t speak much to either his family or the CJP team. He just sighed again and again and looked at everyone’s faces.
His wife, Asiya Khatun (47) became also very emotional after getting her husband back after 12 years. She was weeping and said, “It was sheer misfortune that befell us. I was unsure whether I would be able to see my husband before he died, but because of you…” Overcome with emotion, Asiya couldn’t even complete her sentence.
A lot of water and mud has accumulated around the house of Jabed Ali as his village due to continuous rains in Assam. Roads are in a terrible condition. Meanwhile, there is fear of Covid-19 all around. After being released from detention camp, the CJP Assam State Adviser Zamser Ali informed Jabed Ali about the current situation of Covid-19 and advised him to self-quarantine for 14 days. He also explained that he has to report to the local police station once a week and abide by the rules laid down by the Supreme Court.
But the family still faces many challenges as Ali’s family members’ names were not included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC). This is because of a May 2018 order of the NRC State Coordinator to exclude names of siblings and family members of declared foreigners. The family is economically backward and does not have enough funds to clear their names in the Foreigners’ Tribunals, let alone go to higher courts for relief to clear Jabed Ali’s name by having the FT ruling against him overturned.
Jabed Ali’s release order may be viewed here: