Saheba Bibi’s fight for justice: CJP takes on her case to prevent statelessness

Over the past few weeks, CJP has brought to you heartrending stories of loss, grief – and perseverance from India’s Assam – there have been people, despite enjoying authorised voting rights by the Election Commission, are repeatedly designated as suspected immigrants! These are individual stories that narrate the irrevocable loss the citizenship crisis leaves in its wake regardless of the outcome, the backbreaking effects of combined impacts of poverty, natural disasters, violence, that the people of Assam grapple with as they try to “prove their citizenship.”

Bone-chilling stories of the perseverance of hope and human compassion trail the work of CJP, and some of the stories we have covered include that of Shukur Ali, Bhaleno Bibi, and Usman Ali, to name a few. CJP’s team in Assam is a vibrant presence spread across more than 10 districts, with a team constantly checking up on affected people and cases, whether new or old.

In April 2023, CJP’s District Voluntary Motivator, Mominur Islam, came across Saheba Bibi living in the Pipulbari village of South Salmara, Mankachar district. She was recently served a notice for being a suspected foreigner from the South Salmara-Mankachar Foreigners’ Tribunal. Under the enervating weight of poverty, 55-year-old Saheba Bibi found herself enmeshed in the snares of Assam’s infamous citizenship crisis. Barely making ends meet, Saheba Bibi and her family, who reside in Pipulbari include sons who work as daily wage labourers. A family with no resources has found foisted upon themselves the horrifying prospect of seeing their mother become stateless and imprisoned.

Despite having filed a case after being served a Suspected Foreigner notice, her case did not make any progress or headway as of now. The family was battling with poverty and a lack of resources made them even more vulnerable to finding the legal process extremely debilitating.

In this vulnerable situation, CJP came upon Saheba Bibi and her family, who requested to guide her family and (already hired) advocate in the matter. CJP resolved to provide Saheba Bibi with all the help possible. CJP’s assurances have bolstered hope and strength for Saheba Bibi, who had been at a complete loss of hope earlier. CJP’s state coordinator in Assam, Nanda Ghosh, states with resolve, “We will stand with Saheba Bibi in the fight for citizenship in upcoming days.”

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