11, Dec 2019 | Sanchita Kadam
CJP has been working tirelessly to provide legal aid to those defending their citizenship in Assam. In November we brought to you the story of Sahera Khatun of Satibar Gaon in Chirang District, who spent 3 years and 3 months at the Kokrajhar detention camp after being declared ‘foreigner’ a Foreigners Tribunal in Chirang.
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. 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.
CJP’s DVM (District Volunteer Motivator) Abul Kalam Azad, was in constant contact with Sahera Khatun’s family and spoke to them after she was released from the detention camp as per the May 2019 order of the Supreme Court which allowed conditional release of detainees who had spent more than 3 years in a detention camp in Assam.
Sahera Khatun found herself in this situation despite of having submitted valid legacy documents along with her written statement before the Foreigners Tribunal such as NRC details of her father of 1951, Electoral roll of 1965 in which her father’s name was included as a voter, among other documents.
Sahera Khatun was released from the detention camp after completion of all formalities and she shared her experience with Abul Kalam Azad. She said, “My native place is Bogriguri village, in Barpeta District and I came to Satipur gaon, Chirang District after getting married to Ibrahim Khalil. I submitted my father’s NRC of 1951 as well as his name in the voters lists of 1965 and 1970.” About her experience in the detention camp, she said, “The food was not palatable and sanitation facilities were inadequate. I suffered many hardships in the camp as I awaited release.”
Sahera Khatun’s documents may be viewed here:
(Sahera Khatun’s School Leaving Certificate)
(Sahera Khatun’s Land Document)
(Sahera Khatun’s Gaon Panchayat Certificate)
(Sahera Khatun’s Voter List Proof)
Her family, harrowed by this tribulation, says that if she is a foreigner from Bangladesh, send her there and if not then please stop this process and let them live freely.
There are many others like Sahera Khatun who have been suffering the ordeal of having to live in detention camps despite of possessing valid documents to prove their citizenship. This is reflective of the poor functioning of Foreigners Tribunals and the arbitrary manner in which they work, while the common people are forced to bear the brunt of a callous state and a futile exercise.