CJP Impact: Assamese grandparents rejoice as they’re citizenship reinstated with CJP’s help CJP has triumphed with another victory; a 20-year-old notice from the Foreigner Tribunal was successfully contested and victory was sweet when the couple was declared Indian on March 19, 2024

27, Mar 2024 | CJP Team

An elderly couple, Sader Ali and Molina Bibi, were saved from being rendered stateless with CJP’s timely intervention. A 20 year old notice (originally dated year 2000) from the Foreigner Tribunal was served in 2022, successfully contested and victory was sweet when the couple was declared Indian on March 19, 2024

How is it possible for genuine Indians to be rendered “stateless” after a “notice” with malafide facts is served on them? Visit Assam.

Sader’s father Buttu Sk was about 29-years- old during the time of National Registry of Citizens (NRC) in 1951. Buttu Sk’s name was also recorded in the 1951 NRC, he served as a Chowkidar in the Satrasal Gram Panchayat.

Every week, CJP’s dedicated team in Assam, comprising community volunteers, district volunteer motivators, and lawyers, provides vital paralegal support, counseling, and legal aid to many affected by the citizenship crisis in over 24 districts in Assam.  Through our hands-on approach, 12,00,000 people successfully submitted completed NRC forms (2017-2019). We fight Foreigner Tribunal cases monthly at the district level.  Through these concerted efforts, we have achieved an impressive success rate of 20 cases annually, with individuals successfully obtaining their Indian citizenship. This ground level data ensures informed interventions by CJP in our Constitutional Courts. Your support fuels this crucial work. Stand with us for Equal Rights for All #HelpCJPHelpAssam. Donate NOW!

Today, he runs a small vegetable ‘thela’ (cart) in the weekly market to provide for the family. His son, young Ainul, works as a driver to make sure his little daughter is able to get education.  This little family has been under mental pressure and severe distress until lately due to the citizenship crisis in Assam that had plagued them for more than one year.

Sader Ali and his wife, Molina Bibi have been married for decades and now live with their son and granddaughter. Sader, who is not less than 60 years old, was forced to run to courts and procure documents despite his old age when he should be playing with his granddaughter.

Sader Ali and his son Ainul Haque run a small family of 5 members in a remote part of India which rarely people get to hear about. They reside very close to the Indo-Bangladesh International Border in a village called Ramraikuti, which is considered by many the last village of India.

Molina Bibi holing up her FT Order

On a hot summer day, a man in civil dress handed his wife four pieces of paper and told them to go to court. Sader was working on a vegetable field and was away when this happened. He rushed back to talk to the man but he could not meet him. It was the notice for being summoned to one of Assam’s dreaded Foreigners’ Tribunals.

Sader and his family belong to the “Deshi” community which is recognised as indigenous by the Assam Assembly. However, Sader found no help from official quarters in this hour of grief and despair to assist or help him. However, soon thereafter, his son, Ainul, managed to contact Team CJP for help.

It was a terrifying ordeal and the couple was traumatised. Molina was born in the state of West Bengal, and had never heard of, nor experienced, the citizenship issue that is plaguing the country. However, she had all the right documents required. She had enrolled her name as a voter in Assam as soon as she reached the legal age and never skipped an opportunity to vote. Her father, Mokbul Hussain, was a voter from the Balabhut village of West Bengal. His name was also recorded in the year of 1966 voter list.

She was married to Sader Ali and spent her life working hard with her husband to build a happy family. But this citizenship catastrophe, and the fear of detention camp, put her in deep turmoil and trauma at this stage of life.

It’s essential to note that both Sader and Molina’s father Buttu Sk and Mokbul Hussain were recorded in the voter list of 1966 from their Ramraikuti (now Ramraikuti part I) of Dhubri (then Goalpara) district of Assam, and Balabhul village of Coochbehar district of West Bengal respectively. Even Buttu Sk and his wife’s name was found in 1951 NRC and 1958 voter list. Their presence in early records clearly proves that none of them has any relation with Bangladesh.

Which brings into question the action and role of Assam Border Police, Referral Authority and Foreigner Tribunal.

Initially the reference to being a suspected foreigner was made against them in the year 2002 and the notice was served 20 years later in the year 2022. In the reference it was said in both the cases, the person illegally entered into India from village Bahalguri, Bhurungamari, and district Rangpur Country of Bangladesh after March 25, 1971 “for livelihood without any valid documents through the Jhowkuti Border of West Bengal. It also said that the couple could not produce any documents during the inquiry into their citizenship.” All these bald statements made in the reference were rank falsehoods as the case documents and trajectory thereafter, proved.

In our findings on Google Maps, it was found that Jhowkuti was very near to the victims house and Sader Ali used to set up his small vegetable stall in the market. Since Sader lives close to the Bangladesh border, his village is very close to Bahalguri in Bangladesh.

The family is on record stating that no official had even come to their place for any inquiry or investigation regarding their citizenship. In the experience of several on ground activists, working round the clock with CJP’s Team Assam, that it is a common phenomenon in every reference case that no authority ever visits the victim’s house for any kind of inquiry or investigation.

On CJP Team Assam’s first meeting with the victim’s family, the family seemed very tense, which is a normal and common reaction. To fight these cases, one has to be very strong financially as well as mentally. People generally get frustrated easily with even a single case because to search for lost documents and appear for hearing is nothing less than an extreme form of harassment.

Sader, who has two notices against his identity, did not have either, money or energy, to fight the case. Thus, Team CJP’s first job was to counsel the family and make them mentally prepared to stand up to the legal battle. While examining the documents Sader claimed in his native Deshi Goalpara dialect, “Abba ai gramote chakri korsil, mor bemar taka poisa nai, ela bole amrai bideshi! (My father was a government servant in this village. I’m suffering from illness, don’t have money, and now we are foreigners!!) Sader couldn’t hold back his tears, the agony was clear in his face but he knew no one would come forward to help them. After counselling the family, and examining the documents, the team launched the legal battle. CJP’s legal team member advocate Ishkendar Azad fought his case in the Foreigner Tribunal Nos 10 at Dhubri.

Apart from Sader, his wife Molina also had all the necessary documents. Despite this fact however, when the team first met her she was in a state of terror, lost and in a daze, not saying anything. Finally, after many reassurances, she blurted out, “Baba..mor toh ati kaio nai, mor bari Bengali..mor ki hoibe!” (Son..I don’t have anyone here, I was born in West Bengal, what will happen to me?)

The fact that Molina hails from West Bengal made it more challenging to access her documents from the government of West Bengal and also to ensure the physical presence, as witness, from among the lower bureaucracy in that state. The process meant several calls, physical visits to that state and persistence: to obtain some official’s agreement to be present as a witness before the Tribunal. Not leaving anything to chance, Team CJP did all it could to alleviate the troubles of the family.

The fact that Molina was the daughter of Mokibul Hussain, and this fact was acknowledged by the Gram Panchayat in their official certificate, ensured official “proof.”. CJP’s Team ensured, after repeated requests, that the Gram Panchayat members from West Bengal came as witnesses in Molina’s case.

Sader Ali and Molina Bibi holding up their FT Orders

It was after a prolonged legal battle, one that demanded minute diligence and persistence on the part of CJP’s legal and para legal team, within the Tribunal and on ground to access and file all documents that CJP could finally achieve a substantive victory. Sader and Molina, an elderly couple could find long-lost happiness and peace. Victory was sweet when just five days ago, on March 19, 2024, finally, on behalf of team CJP, Assam State Incharge Nanda Ghosh and DVM of Dhubri District Habibul Bepari handed over the copy of the judgement from the Tribunal, to the couple.

“A ticket to heaven!” Molina claimed while holding the judgement copy that declared her as Indian close to her chest. With the help of CJP, the family was able to rejoice in the month of Ramzan. Out of sheer reliedf and happiness, Sader arranged an Iftar for the Team CJP when he heard that he, and his wife, had both been declared as Indian.

To many this may appear as a small or ordinary celebration. In the hapless state of Assam however—where the combined troika of the Assam Border Police, the State Election Commission and the Bureaucracy, can arbitrarily –without due examine—impose statelessness, on an Indian by birth and ancestry, such a victory is profound and meaningful. Written and oral evidence before the tribunal requires a combined diligence between the legal and para legal approaches. This si what CJP’s Team Assam brings to the people in the state.

As our team was leaving her home after delivering her a copy of the March 19, 2024 judgement, Molina called out, “Don’t forget us, come often to visit. May Allah bless you all.”

Their orders may be viewed here:

Molina Bibi FT Order 24 January 2024 Sader Ali FT Order 28 December 2023




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