06, Feb 2021 | CJP Team
One more person has walked out of Assam’s infamous detention camps with CJP’s assistance, taking the tally to 34. Banesa Bibi was released on conditional bail from Kokrajhar detention camp after spending 2 years and 18 days behind bars.
58-year-old Banesa Bibi is a resident of Village no. 2 Dhupguri, Lungjhar that falls under the jurisdiction of Manikpur police station in Bongaigaon district of Assam. Daughter of late Kayemuddin Munshi, Banesa hails from a socio-economically backward family, and she is unlettered. Her husband Fajar Ali is a daily wage labourer.
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.
Banesa Bibi received a notice from the Bongaigaon Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) on September 23, 2014. Her family tried hard to support her through the FT trial, her husband even sold off their meagre possessions including hens, ducks and goats! But on January 5, 2019 the FT declared her ‘foreigner’ and she was sent to Kokrajhar detention camp.
Banesa’s neighbours vouch for her citizenship. One of them told CJP, “Despite being born in Assam, the government and the FT have done tremendous injustice to Banesa Bibi by sending her to a detention camp.”
Challenges in securing release
According to Nanda Ghosh, State Incharge, CJP Assam, “It was very challenging to arrange for bailors as most people like to avoid getting involved in such matters. The CJP team spent one month and 15 days to find bailors, convince them, compiled their documents and tend to other legal procedures.” In fact, the team was forced to go through the entire process twice, as the person who had agreed to become the bailor, backed out at the last minute!
He further explains, “We had to go to the village of the bailors, go to the circle office, go to the SDO (C) office, election office, Border branch, court, Superintendent of police (Border) office of Bongaigaon District, Kokrajhar Detention jailor office etc.”
But, eventually CJP’s efforts paid off and Banesa Bibi was released on conditional bail in line with two judgments of the Supreme Court and a suo moto case taken up by the Gauhati High Court on procedure to release detention camp inmates on bail in order to decongest the jail due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Banesa Bibi had an emotional reunion with her family on February 4, 2021. Her neighbours came out in large numbers to welcome her home. Her daughters, son and even some villagers were overcome by emotion and shed tears.
Banesa Bibi too broke down and grabbed Nanda Ghosh’s hand and told him, “You are like my son, may Allah bless you!” She also thanked the CJP team saying, “I never thought that I would return home! It would not have been possible without CJP’s help.” Recalling her time behind bars, Baesa Bibi said, “It was a horrible period of my life. I don’t know what I did, why they imprisoned me!”
It appeared as though she had more to say, but perhaps due to exhaustion, or may be the relief of finally being home, words escaped her…
A copy of the release order may be read here:
Apart from Nanda Ghosh, Zamser Ali advised and mentored the CJP team involved in securing Banesa Bibi’s release. The team also includes state team member Papiya Das, CJP Community Volunteer Habibul Bepari, Community Volunteer Gouranga Karmakar, Community Volunteer Pijush Chakraborty, DVM Pranay Tarafder, Advocate Dewan Abdur Rahim, Advocate A.A. Ahamed, and Community Volunteer Ruhul Amin Mandal, while driver Ashikul Hussein ferried them to all locations during this period.