Even the Dead Are Not Spared: A Tragic Tale of NRC’s Heartless Grip on Assam Grieving family faces citizenship crisis, must prove loved one's death

24, Jun 2023 | CJP Team

In the last week of April 2023, DVM Habibul Bepari, accompanied by a dedicated community volunteer from Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), made their way to the Agomani police station in Dhubri district. Their purpose was to address pressing citizenship matters and documentation concerns, specifically related to a Foreigner Notice served to a person by the Agomani Border Branch. The meeting was marked with the tragic absurdness of the situation, as CJP Assam went to inform Babul Roy, the In-charge of the Border Branch, that the person they’d served a suspected foreigner notice no longer existed! 

A dead man being served a foreigners notice points us towards the inefficient ways in which the citizenship crisis has affected people – so much so, that even the dead are not left at peace.

This heart-wrenching case also sheds light on the apathy of the state towards the suffering of the poor during the citizenship verification process, while highlighting the relentless efforts of CJP to aid those desperately seeking to reclaim their citizenship.

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 52 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!

During their meeting with the In-charge of the Border Branch, Babul Roy, CJP’s team highlighted the erroneous nature of the notice, informing Roy about the departure of the deceased person and stressing the urgency of submitting the required death certificate before the scheduled hearing. Bepari’s plea was aimed not only at rectifying the mistake but also at urging authorities to assist the innocent victims caught in the unforgiving clutches of statelessness.

The family, burdened by poverty and lacking formal education, had neglected to obtain the necessary death certificate at the time of their relative’s passing. Now, with the impending hearing, they found themselves lost and helpless, unaware of how to navigate the labyrinthine bureaucracy to prove their case.

Furthermore, as an honest and tragic display of the family’s poverty and helplessness, the deceased person’s son, an uneducated daily wage laborer, was unaware of the necessary steps to obtain the certificate. However, Habibul Bepari (district volunteer motivator-DVM) and CJP volunteer Eliyas Sarkar reassured the family that they would provide guidance and assistance, promising them that the certificate would be obtained before the impending hearing.

In this dark and sobering moment, Habibul Bepari and the CJP community volunteer, Eliyas Sarkar, emerged as beacons of hope for the grieving family. They pledged their support and guidance to the deceased person’s son, who was an uneducated daily wage laborer. With unwavering determination, Bepari and Sarkar promised to accompany him to the relevant office and assist him in obtaining the vital death certificate before the impending hearing. Their tireless efforts epitomized CJP’s ongoing campaign to empower individuals and aid them in reclaiming their rightful Indian citizenship.

This heart-rending incident serves as a grim reminder of the perils faced by countless innocent individuals ensnared in the NRC and the Foreigner Tribunals of Assam. The NRC, originally designed to identify and exclude illegal immigrants, has inadvertently become a source of torment for families torn apart by uncertainty and despair. The plight of the poor, who lack resources, education, and proper documentation, is further exacerbated by the bureaucratic complexities of the process. 

By actively engaging with local authorities and advocating on behalf of those affected by citizenship issues, CJP ensures that authorities are in touch with people’s plight. Poverty and lack of education renders the marginalised in Assam completely bereft of any hope. CJP Assam help them navigate the intricacies of bureaucracy and provide invaluable support to those in need, their efforts continue to make a significant impact on the lives of individuals. 

In the face of this darkness, CJPs unwavering commitment acts as a ray of hope for those entangled in the labyrinth of the NRC. CJP’s relentless commitment to the cause of justice provides hope for individuals struggling to regain their rightful citizenship.

Representational Image by: Siddhesh Gautam









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