Assam: In a huge relief for two men from Assam, CJP has helped secure their release from a detention camp. Brothers Samsul Ali (67) and Abdur Rashid (60) had been lodged in the Goalpara detention camp for over three years.
Both hail from Village no. 2 Goraimari that falls under the jurisdiction of the Panbari police station of Chirang district in Lower Assam. They were daily wage earning labourers when they were imprisoned. Sons of late Elimuddin, both Samsul Ali and Abdur Rashid were born in Monakocha village in the late 1950s, which is only 3 km from their present home in Goraimari. They shifted to their new home in the late 1970s.
19 lakh excluded from final NRC list
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.
They were referred to a foreigner’s tribunal (FT) by the Border Police as suspected foreigners. Both, Samsul Ali and Abdur Rashid belong to indigenous Assamese community as per popular narratives in present Assam. They submitted documents including legacy documents of their father Elimuddin’s 1951 NRC, Voters list of 1966 and 1971, they were declared foreigners by the Foreigners’ tribunal. As they are uneducated, they do not have a school leaving certificate, but both also submitted their Voter IDs.
Despite this, an FT member who has an alleged track record of declaring a large number of people foreigners, ruled against them citing the reason that the written statement submitted by the Advocate of Samsul Ali and Abdur Rashid didn’t mention why Elimuddin who was resident of Monakocha till 1971, shifted to Goraimari in 1970s! Another reason cited was that the written statement didn’t mention that they were Indian by birth!
Conditional release of detention camp inmates
It may be recalled that last year, the Supreme Court had paved the way for the conditional release of detention camp inmates on bail if they had completed three years in captivity. When CJP found out about the brothers, we immediately swung into action.
CJP team members Nanda Ghosh and Pranay Tarafdar ran from pillar to post to get documents necessary to secure their bail. “We needed two sureties of Rs 1 lakh each for both brothers. For this we had to get land documents of the people who were offering the surety. These included land ownership documents, land tax payment documents, land valuation documents and many more. Plus, we needed to get signatures of officials on these documents and have them verified,” says Nanda Ghosh explaining the tedious process. “We collected documents and moved from one office to another, from the Circle Office to the Sub Divisional Officer and the process went on for four months,” he says. CJP advocate Abdur Rahim helped with all legal formalities.
But our efforts paid off and after the last set of formalities were completed, Samsul Ali and Abdur Rashid walked out of the detention camp after three years and ten days. The team led by CJP Assam program coordinator Zamser Ali, along with Nanda Ghosh and Pranay Tarafdar went to receive the brother and bring them back from the detention camp.
Abdur Rashid recounted the horrors of captivity saying, “The food was of an extremely poor quality and the place where we ate was next to an open drain. I found rat dropping sin food. The hygiene was extremely poor, so after a few days all inmates went on a hunger strike. After seven days of surviving only on water the authorities relented and things improved marginally.”
Samsul Ali is hard of hearing and sometimes just keeps repeating his own name in answer to any question. He also needs an inhaler to breathe if he walks more than a few steps. His fragile health and the fact that he will have to make weekly visits to the police station is a source of concern for his family. But they are grateful the brothers are back. “Had it not been for Nandu and Pranay, my husband wouldn’t have come back,” says Abdur Rashid’s wife.