10, Jul 2021 | CJP Team
Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) has built a unique relationship with the people of Assam. In the three years that we have been serving our fellow Indians in the state, we have become acutely aware of issues intertwined with the larger matter of citizenship. We therefore believe that our work does not end with providing legal aid to citizens in distress. We want to continue empowering them even after we help them overcome their most pressing challenges, till the point they are able to bear their burdens on their own.
Therefore, we didn’t stop at helping as many as 41 people secure release from detention camps on conditional bail. We are now helping some of the most impoverished among them by providing them food rations. Just this week we are providing food rations to nearly 20 people who we had helped get released from detention camps.
“We distributed rations on July 8, to five detainees who we had helped in the past. On July 9, we delivered these kits to five more such people. We are in the process of distributing these ration kits to more such people,” says Nanda Ghosh, CJP Assam Team In-Charge.
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.
Many of the people we have helped so far hail from extremely impoverished families and find it hard to make ends meet. Some are unemployed, many are too old to work and earn a living. Some have only one bread-winner who provides for the entire family by engaging in low-paying daily wage jobs that never provide enough for the entire family. Then there is the added impact of the Covid-19 induced lockdown on the economy and consequently employment opportunities and wages.
Therefore, CJP decided to swing into action and identify the neediest people from among the detainees we helped secure release and provide them with basic rations to help them tide over these troubled times. Our ration kits comprise rice, pulses, mustard oil, salt, potato, onion, soyabean, biscuit and soap.
On July 8, 2021, we distributed these to the following detainees:
Shantibala Ray of Ekrabari village
She is a 60-year-old Koch Rajbongshi woman who spent 3 years, 7 months and 8 days in captivity at the Kokrajhar detention camp. She was released with CJP’s help on April 22, 2020. Read more here.
Harabala Khatun of Padmapur village
She was the 32nd inmate to be released with CJP’s help from the Kokrajhar detention camp on June 24, 2020. Her husband is ailing and cannot work on account of his advanced age. While her two elder sons work as carpenters, work is scarce due to the pandemic. She has three other school-going sons and the family is struggling financially. Read her story here.
Harimohon Barman of Kashikotra village
This 58-year-old used to sell tea before he was thrown into a detention camp. The already impoverished family exhausted all savings fighting his case and then also on medical expenses for his ailing son Ratan. His wife Moina is ailing too. CJP helped secure his release on May 13, 2020. But the family is struggling to put food on the table. Therefore, we provided them with a few essential supplies.
Abdul Sheikh of Chatiborgaon village
In his 60s, Abdul Sheikh is a frail old man who has led a life scarred by violence and poverty with his wife Aisa. They are both riot survivors and watched their homes go up in flames, their kin slaughtered during ethnic clashes in the state. Sheikh is unemployed, Aisa is ailing. Their eldest son, 21-year-old Asmot Ali takes care of his mother and five other siblings: three brothers Shanidul, Sukur and Asad, and two sisters, Saji and Asia. He is making sure they get to go to school. The youngest, Asad, is a student of class three. But his meagre earnings are not enough. Therefore, CJP is helping the family with food rations. Read their story here.
Sahera Khatun of Chatipur village
CJP had helped secure Sahera Khatun’s release from the Kokrajhar detention camp in December 2019. She was declared foreigner despite submitting a school leaving certificate, votes ID, land documents and a Gaon Panchayat certificate. She was sent to a detention camp and spent 3 years and 3 months, before being released with CJP’s help. Read her story here.
On July 9, we continued our campaign, and delivered rations to the following people:
Parbati Das of Charagaon
She is a septuagenarian for CJP had toiled for 9 months to help her get conditional bail. Eventually, Parbati walked out of a detention camp in April 2020. Parbati was relieved to get the food rations. She hails from a Scheduled Caste and her family is extremely economically weak. Read her story here. When she saw Nanda Ghosh and our team walking towards her house with rations, she welcomed us with a big smile. Here are some pictures.
Joykrishna Paul of Bhakirvita, Bongaigaon
He was released from the Goalpara detention camp with CJP’s help in on May 17 this year. His daughter was forced to put her education on hold and work to put food on the table for the family when he was incarcerated. Read their story here.
Banesa Bibi of Dhupguri
CJP had helped secure here release in February this year. Her family was already in deep economic distress due to the expenditure they had incurred to defend her citizenship, her husband even sold off their meagre possessions including hens, ducks and goats! But afterwards CJP took over her case and helped her get released from the Kokrajhar detention camp.
Abdur Rashid and Samsul Hoque of Goraimari
Brothers Samsul Hoque (67) and Abdur Rashid (60) had been lodged in the Goalpara detention camp for over three years. They were daily wage labourers with meagre earnings, when they were imprisoned. CJP helped them secure release from the detention camp. Now, both are senior citizens and their families are in economic distress. Read their story here.
Our campaign to distribute ration kits is still ongoing. According to Nanda Ghosh, “We are in the process of delivering rations to Kshitij Singha, Kiswar Barman, Bangshidhar Rajbongshi, Sunil Chandra Biswas, Shanti Basfore, Doyjan Bibi and a few others.”
Some more images from the ration distribution campaign may be viewed here: