21-year-old Monalisa, who has been working in a cloth shop to provide for her family for the last two years, is a relieved young woman today. Her father Joykrishna Paul is finally home after spending two years in the Goalpara detention camp in Assam.

“What happened to us, should never happen to anyone else,” she says, even as her father is at a loss of words, feeling emotionally overwhelmed after being reunited with his family. CJP helped Joykrishna Paul secure conditional bail in line with successive orders passed by the Supreme Court and Gauhati High Court. Paul was finally released from the Goalpara detention camp and came back home to his wife and two daughters on May 17, 2021.

Joykrishna Paul, son of Sunandan Paul hails from Bhakirivita in Bongaigaon district of Assam. He was identified as a suspected foreigner and served notice, and subsequently declared a foreigner by a Foreigners’ Tribunal, despite having all documents.

A little flummoxed and enraged, Monalisa told CJP Assam State In-charge Nanda Ghosh, “I don’t understand how my father became a foreigner despite having his Bongaigaon Vidyapeeth High School certificate of January 25, 1971! Our family was destroyed, Dada!”

Paul used to work in other people’s shops when he was a free man. But after he was sent to the detention camp, the family’s responsibility fell on Monalisa’s shoulders. While her friends went to college, Monalisa had to work to put food on the table. At the end of the month, she would make a measly Rs 2,800 that was barely enough to make ends meet. Monalisa also had to pay for the medical needs of her ailing mother Dulu, who suffers from hypertension and diabetes. She also had to take responsibility for her school-going younger sister Sushmita.

When the courts began to take a more compassionate look at detainees in wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Monalisa neither had the financial means, nor the knowledge of proper procedures to secure his release. That’s when the family approached CJP.

“The Covid crisis itself poses many challenges. There’s a curfew and one is allowed to move around only between 5 A.M and 12 noon,” says CJP Assam State In-charge Nanda Ghosh explaining the various impediments CJP had to overcome to help Paul secure bail. “Also, because of Covid, it is very difficult to find bailors and get all their documents verified and in order. But Bongaigaon being an urban area, almost everyone there has Medi Patta land (documentary proof of land ownership), and one of their neighbours, Mr. Braja Ballabh Das, agreed to become a bailor,” says Ghosh.

The day of release was spent almost all day from morning to night at Bongaigaon District Superintendent of Police (Border) Branch. At night, Joykrishna Paul was taken home in CJP office car after completing the formalities at the Bongaigaon SP (B) office after being released from the Goalpara detention camp.

It was an emotional moment for the family and tears flowed free as father and daughters were reunited after two years. Jaykrishna Paul sat speechless, but the tears in his eyes expressed his gratitude towards the CJP team.

Paul’s wife Dulu is still ailing and wasn’t strong enough to come out of the house to greet her husband. That’s when Paul’s daughters tried to caution their father against crying in front of their emotionally fragile mother saying, “Don’t cry in front of mother! She cries every day and asks when you will come? If you cry, then mother…”, the sentence was left unfinished as they broke into tears again.

CJP salutes the courage of these sisters, especially Monalisa, who overcame life’s many struggles and persisted till Paul returned home.

CJP Legal team member Advocate Dewan Abdur Rahim ensured all documents, applications and legal paperwork were in order. Other members of the team to contributed to his release include CJP state office in-charge Papiya Das, Bongaigaon local community volunteer Amrit Das and our office driver Ashikul Ali who drove the team from one office to another to complete various formalities, even amidst a deadly pandemic, strong winds and heavy rains.

The CJP team observed all Covid appropriate behavior including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing at all times. The Assam state team has also been provided with thermometers and oximeters to periodically check temperature and blood oxygen level of team members.

This story was first appeared on newsclick.in