13, Sep 2021 | CJP Team
Over the last few months, we have brought to you instances of people from other Indian states being declared foreigners in Assam and sent to detention camps. These include Lalit Thakur – a barber from Bihar, Dipak Deb – who hails from Tripura, and Mrinal Mandal – who originally hails from West Bengal, but moved to Assam after marrying an Assamese woman. Now, CJP is in the process of helping Gangadhar Pramanik, who also hails from West Bengal and came to Assam looking for work, but was declared a foreigner and is currently behind bars at the Goalpara Detention Centre.
“We found out about Gangadhar Pramanik from Dipak Deb and Fazar Ali, when we were helping them get bail. They told us that Pramanik was always quiet and appeared to be deep in thought. They also told us that he wasn’t eating well,” says CJP Assam state team in-charge Nanda Ghosh. The men were so depressed they had contemplated extreme measures. “They told us they had thought of either escaping or committing suicide, but couldn’t because the guards kept an eye on them at all times,” says Ghosh explaining the dire situation. CJP immediately swung into action.
Every day of each week, a formidable team of community volunteers, district volunteer motivators and lawyers—CJP’s Team Assam – is providing ready at hand paralegal guidance, counselling and actual legal aid to hundreds of individuals and families paralysed by the citizenship-driven humanitarian crisis in the state. Our boots on the ground approach has ensured that 12,00,000 persons filled their forms to enlist in the NRC (2017-2019) and over the past one year alone we have helped release 41 persons from Assam’s dreaded detention camps. Our intrepid team provides paralegal assistance to, on an average of 72-96 families each month. Our district-level, legal team works on 25 Foreigner Tribunal cases month on month. This ground level data ensures informed interventions by CJP in our Constitutional Courts, the Guwahati High Court and the Supreme Court. Such work is possible because of you, individuals all over India, who believe in this work. Our maxim, Equal Rights for All. #HelpCJPHelpAssam. Donate NOW!
33-year-old Gangadhar Pramanik, son of Mantu Pramanik, belongs to Radhanagar, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Bishnupur police station of Bankura district in West Bengal. He has been lodged at the Goalpara Detention Centre since December 12, 2017 after being declared foreigner by a Foreigners’ Tribunal in case number: 882/2016..
“We found out about him in July 2021, but we faced a unique challenge as he has no family in Assam. When we found his address in West Bengal, we discovered that nobody lived there anymore. Moreover, there was no way to contact them as they had left behind no forwarding address or phone numbers,” says Ghosh. But we did not give up and contacted his former neighbours to gather as much information as we could. After some time, our search paid off and we found that his mother had moved into her daughter i.e Pramanik’s sister’s home. We then located a distant cousin who we requested visit the sister’s home.
That is when we learned of the devastating news. Gangadhar’s father Mantu had passed away and his mother had suffered a paralytic stroke. “Turns out both tragedies were the result of one thing – they were unable to contact their son who had left to work in Assam. They presumed that he was either lost, or worse… dead,” says Ghosh. “When we spoke to his sister over the phone, she cried tears of joy and appealed fervently to us to bring him back home safely,” adds Ghosh.
But the bigger tragedy was that Gangadhar was unaware of his father’s passing and only came to know about it from us. “Nobody had been able to contact him after he was taken to the Detention Centre and we had to break the news of his father’s death to Gangadhar. He was at a loss of words and just cried,” says Ghosh the CJP was able to meet him only twice since we started working on his case in July this year.
“When we contacted the Border Police to start release formalities, we were told one of the conditions was that the released detainee should remain in Assam. But this is not possible for Pramanik. He has no one here, he doesn’t want to stay here. He is scared,” says Ghosh who is now also conferring with West Bengal authorities about a possible solution. Our next challenge was finding a bailor. This is because Gangadhar has no family or even an address in Assam. “When we did find bailor, there was a hiccup as there was a small mistake in his documents. So, we had to get another bailor, and again faced the same problem. Now we have found a third bailor and have started the process afresh,” says Ghosh explaining why it has taken this long to secure Pramanik’s release.
As of Monday September 13, the CJP Assam team was hard at work completing bail and release related formalities at the office of the Deputy Commissioner of the Border Police. We hope Pramanik will be able to walk out of the Goalpara Detention Centre soon and be reunited with his family.