22, Oct 2021 | CJP Team
The West Bengal government has included Gangadhar Pramanik’s name in the electoral rolls of his home district of Bankura. The move comes a month after a team of Bengal government officials, led by Anup Kumar Dutta, sub-divisional officer (Bishnupur, Bankura) visited Pramanik’s home in Radhanagar village on September 17, and confirmed his Indian citizenship.
CJP had previously helped Pramanik get released from the Goalpara Detention Centre. Though he hails from West Bengal, the young man who was a migrant worker in Guwahati, was declared foreigner by a Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) in Assam and thrown into the detention centre at Goalpara. We had found out about him from Dipak Deb and Fazar Ali, when we were helping them get bail. The men had been so demoralised, that they had contemplated everything from prison-break to suicide! We had helped Pramanik secure bail and get released from the detention centre and then accompanied him back home to his village in West Bengal to reunite him with his mother.
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 41 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!
Life begins afresh for Gangadhar Pramanik
The Telegraph reports that on October 21, the Bankura district administration confirmed the inclusion of Pramanik’s name in the electoral roll after submitting all forms and conducting a field verification. “The person detained in Assam for over three years is now enrolled in the electoral roll of the district. His voter identity card (EPIC) will be issued after draft publishing of the roll. We will also arrange other documents he requires. After field verification, we started the work to get him the required documents within two days of his return to his village,” Bankura district magistrate K. Radhika Aiyar told the publication.
Previously the district administration had confirmed Pramanik’s Indian citizenship after checking land documents, his parents’ voter IDs, and even discovered that his name was registered in a local primary school.
Brief background of the case
Gangadhar’s father Mantu used to work in local shops while Gangadhar who had received an education till 5th standard, supplemented the family’s income by working in a saloon. Nearly ten years ago, Gangadhar had left his home in search of work. He boarded a train from Bishnupur to Howrah and then another train and eventually found himself in Guwahati!
Lost and penniless, he started working at a restaurant and later in a chocolate factory. But he had to quit after a drunk coworker assaulted him and left him with a head injury! Gangadhar quit and went back to his old job, where his former employer agreed to pay him his full wages when he went home. But it was not to be. “One day the police came and took me away. At the police station, they asked me my name and address,” he recalled his fresh bout of misfortune. “They kept me there overnight and then took me to another jail. I found out that they thought I was Bangladeshi,” a perplexed Gangadhar had told the CJP team when we met him.
How CJP helped Gangadhar Pramanik
CJP’s Assam team faced an unprecedented challenge in helping him get bail as he did not have an address or family in Assam. “When we found his address in West Bengal, we discovered that nobody lived there anymore. Moreover, there was no way to contact them as they had left behind no forwarding address or phone numbers,” says CJP Assam state team in-charge Nanda Ghosh. But we did not give up, and based on information provided by their former neighbours, we traced his mother Bharati to his sister Champa’s house. That was also when we learnt that Gangadhar’s father Mantu had passed away. But what was perhaps most heartbreaking was that Gangadhar found out about his father’s passing from the CJP team, as he had not been able to establish contact with anyone from his family until then.
After some difficulty we found a bailor, and even negotiated a complex set of conditions for his bail. “When we contacted the Border Police to start release formalities, we were told one of the conditions was that the released detainee should remain in Assam. But this is not possible for Pramanik,” explains Ghosh. Since Pramanik did not have an address in Assam, Ghosh and Advocate Abhijeet Chaudhury from CJP’s legal team had to give written undertakings that they would take him home to West Bengal and take responsibility for him. They were also made to submit copies of their own documents such as voter IDs and passports. Additionally, the CJP team helped establish contact between police officials from both states via telephone, so that the entire process could be completed smoothly.
We were coordinating between the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Border), the Additional Superintendent of Police (Bankura), and police officials from the Bishnupur police station under whose jurisdiction Pramanik’s village falls. On September 14, we finally got the greenlight from all relevant authorities to secure Pramanik’s release. After that, Nanda Ghosh and advocate Abhijeet Chaudhury boarded the Saraighat Express to Bardhaman with Gangadhar Pramanik. We reached Radhanagar on September 15, and there, Gangadhar’s entire village came out to greet the son they thought they had lost. Gangadhar’s mother Bharati, his cousin, and even the owner of the saloon where he once worked and many people in the area came. And then, a victory celebration broke out. Bharati remained in shock for a while, her eyes wide in wonder at the sight of her son. “This is my son… My Ganga is back,” she kept saying as she hugged and held him.