People who have been in Assam’s detention camps for over three years were given some relief in May 2019 when the Supreme Court directed that those who have spent more than three years in captivity be set free subject to certain conditions which included personal bond of Rs 1,00,000. This was during the course of hearing a petition on the state of detention camps in Assam. At the time of this judgement there were a total of 1,136 people in six detention camps in Assam, among them were 376 people have been in captivity for three years.
It has been nine months since this judgment was passed, but since then the number of people who have been in captivity has gone up to 500. It is a matter of great concern that more than half have not been released due to the absence of competent representation and most importantly due to the questionable responses from the Assam state Home department, Government of Assam. The Home department has been rejecting outright, or keeping pending, a significant number of these bail applications.
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.
This is happening on the legal front. Along with this there have been reports of various superintendents of jails who are reportedly pressurizing family members of those in captivity for over three years to take prompt action for them to be released.
CJP’s volunteer motivator from lower Assam, Nandu Ghosh reported that the conditions of the detainees in these detention camps are pathetic. The jail superintendents have said to him that, as per the law, these detainees must be released and hence the government has made (unlawful) cuts to their food expenditure. On humanitarian grounds they (jail superintendants are serving them half of the quantity of food they were originally getting). Family members are very concerned. Many family members often fail to provide representation due to the expensive nature of the process. Some cases have been rejected due to minor techinal reasons.
The crucial question is, if the Home department who does not allow these detainees to be released –on technical grounds– how can they, at the same time, refuse them minimum food? CJP’s Team Assam is trying to help family members of detainees so that they can be released at the earliest, but there is a problem of acute poverty, illiteracy and lack of knowledge is a very big problem. Many people do not understand the complexity of the process and what procedures to follow. Due to the lack of money, they have to work for their livelihood having no time for this legal process.
Team CJP in Assam has intensified their work on all fronts. The process of data collection of all those excluded from the NRC is ongoing. CJP Volunteer Motivator for Nagaon, Morigaon and Karbi Anglong District Faruk Ahmed, CJP Volunteer Motivators for Darrang District, Chirang District, Bongaigaon District, Barpeta District, Kamrup District, Goalpara District Joynal Abedin, Abul kalam Azad, Pranay Tarafdar, Majidul Islam, Anish Ahmed Bhuyan and Rashminara Begum are working day and night to collect data of all those who have been excluded. So that CJP’s national legal team can agitate the matter in the Supreme Court of India.