06, May 2023 | CJP Team
Three years after CJP’s legal team secured the release of Hindi-speaking Dalit woman from Assam, Shanti Basfore, CJP continues to aid her in her rehabilitation, returning back to life after her harrowing two-year long tenure in Assam’s Kokrajhar detention camp the only such dreaded centre for women. For a released detainee, returning to life is filled with difficulties – social stigma, poverty, and mental health –these issues are some of the many concerns that persist. CJP ensures that its task does not end with formal or temporal legal victories. Instead, its vision is oriented towards a persistent effort to go the extra mile for an all-around repatriation of individuals into society, which includes assisting in the exploration of livelihood options, counselling family members and suicidal persons, imparting legal acumen through paralegal workshops among the affected and intervening in actual legal battles.
In April 2023, CJP’s Team Assam members conducted one of their usual visits to Shanti Basfore’s home. Checking on her health and weekly visits to the Agomani police station, CJP’s DVM (District Voluntary Motivator) HabibulBepari and Community Volunteers Alpona Sarkar and Saddam Sarkar, on this visit learned how released detainee, Shanti Basfore’s health was much better from the last time they had visited her a month before, in March 2023. Her work in making handicrafts and selling them at the local market was also going well, bringing in support. While Shanti Basfore has made herself an Aadhaar card after her release, this time, she asked CJP for guidance on applying for a ration card. CJP’s team members responded that their advocate would be best suited to get back to her and assured her they would deliver her legal assistance.
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!
Hundreds of thousands of people in Assam who have had close brushes with the horrifying prospect of being rendered stateless are compelled, out of a human desire for respectability and acceptance, to continue making government documents to further re-establish their status as Indians in their communities after courts have recognised them as Indians.
CJP’s Team Assam put a concentrated effort, despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 lockdown, to help Shanti Basfore prove her citizenship in 2021.
‘Are people only valuable as voters?’ asked Indrani Das, a neighbour had asked our Team at the much-celebrated homecoming of released detainee Shanti Basfore in her village.
Shanti Basfore had resided in her village, Ramraikuti (Part-2) of AgomaniTownship, in Dhubri Assam since birth. CJP senior Community Volunteer, Hussain Ali, expressed surprise and shock at her detention, as did the rest of her village, as he recalled having known her since she was born and her parents before that.
“Our team was deeply moved by the family’s plight. After Shanti’s detention, her son apparently could not bear the trauma and lost his mental balance. He went missing and still remains untraceable,” stated Nanda Ghosh, CJP’s state coordinator in Assam.
At the Kokrajhar Detention Camp, Shanti Basfore spent more than two years detained as a ‘foreigner’ despite having all the documents necessary to prove herself as Indian. In December 2017, she was served a notice by the Foreigners Tribunal. However, due to various circumstances, she was unable to appear before the tribunal and was soon declared foreigner ex parte. After this, she was taken away one fine day by the Assam Police. Her family had tried to put up a legal fight, but due to a lack of resources, the lawyer they hired proved treacherous and ineffective. It was then when CJP intervened, providing legal help as well as overall aid, including getting Shanti’s documentation in order that made a lasting impact. Thus, in June 2021, Shanti Basfore was released from the inhumane trials of the Kokrajhar detention camp. Since then, CJP’s team has continued to maintain contact with her.
This incident is but a microcosm, a brief insight that explainsthe sustained efforts CJP has pursued in the citizenship crisis affected Assam.
CJP’s vision does not allow its work to stop the moment they’ve secured the release of an Indian from detention camps or the moment the tribunals deliver judgement. CJP understands that when a mammoth crisis is foisted upon a people struggling with poverty, environmental hazards, and communal and caste violence, a sustained and humane intervention is pertinent for people to return to normalcy. Our work, since 2017 displays a unique multi-pronged approach made possible due to the committed involvement of our diverse team of DVMs and CVs, assisted and guided by a local and state level legal team! CJP stands committed to its stand, with the marginalised, in their struggle for dignity and survival against injustice in Assam.