2.2 Million Assamese are Stateless
Behind every (human) rights violation is a name, a person, a human being whose life gets violently ruptured when the basic right to live with dignity is snatched away. Assam’s citizenship crisis is a humanitarian tragedy of unspeakable proportions affecting a third of the population. A discriminatory and ill-thought through, documentary test of being is bringing into question an individual’s relationship with the land of his/her birth. Arbitrarily being declared non-Indian (un-Indian) has meant a civil death for 2.2 million Assamese and their families. Since 2017, CJP’s Team Assam has worked in faraway villages and districts to provide real paralegal, legal and psychological assistance.

In many of the cases the CJP team has handled in Assam, the lives of detention centre inmates change significantly by the time they are released. Many go back to empty homes and memories of loved ones who have passed. The story of Purnima Biswas too, had a bittersweet ending. She hails from Juilaga village near the Bhutan Border in Chirang district. She was arrested by the police when she had gone to offer prayers at a Shiva temple.

Simon Nessa’s husband Jobbar Ali died in the Tezpur detention camp in Assam under mysterious circumstances.

The denial of citizenship is much like a civil death as the ‘right to have rights’ is arbitrarily snatched away by an unfeeling State. CJP Team came across many instances of mysterious deaths of detention camp inmates. Seemingly healthy people, suddenly dropping dead. Then there were people who succumbed to a bout of ill health brought about by poor hygiene and over-all bad conditions in the detention camps.

Women, marginalised, have been disproportionately targeted in the citizenship crisis of Assam. Declared 'doubtful foreigners' and 'D-voters' regularly, these women's overwhelming struggle to prove their citizenship is often heartbreaking. From battling in the courts, to developing a personal connection with these women to helping them get reintergrated into society, CJP's team Assam has ensured that none of these women have been ignored.
Citizens for Justice and Peace

Panchayat Elections in West Bengal
Political violence is nothing new in West Bengal. The curve of political violence reaches its height during the panchayat elections in the State. This violence took ugly turns in the new millennium, both under the Left political regime led by the CPI(M) as well as during the TMC rule. A report carried in The Indian Express quoted an analyst in this context: “According to unofficial statistics, approximately 80 people died in the 2003 panchayat elections, 45 in 2008, and in 2013, the toll was 31. The toll increased to 75 in 2018.” ( According to the latest estimates, more than 50 people died in poll-related violence since the panchayat elections were declared in the State in 2023.

It is quite natural that the party in power gets an advantage over the opposition parties in terrorising/influencing the voters to cast their votes for the candidates affiliated to the ruling party.

In the current panchayat elections, the party in power, the TMC, registered a landslide victory in the three-tier panchayat elections and strengthened its domination at the grassroots level. There are different dimensions of this poll verdict.

One important dimension of the current panchayat polls in West Bengal reported in the media is that the rural women voted in large numbers for the TMC compared to males. The opposition parties fared comparatively well in places where the number of female voters was less than the males. (See the report carried in Times of India, July 12, 2023)

Another important development noticed in the current panchayat poll verdict is that the BJP’s hold over the Matua community in North 24 Parganas and Nadia and Rajbanshi community in the districts of north Bengal witnessed substantial erosions.

Multiple reasons may be attributed to the political violence noticed during and in the wake of panchayat elections in West Bengal. One major structural reason is that the panchayat bodies have now access to huge financial resources and the political parties are getting engaged in bloody battles to establish their control over those resources and ensure political loyalty of the villagers. Moreover, lack of employment/livelihood opportunities in the age of neoliberalism is pushing the rural footloose people to become foot soldiers of the political parties in fighting bloody battles in the streets.
Arup Kumar Sen, Kolkata


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Vol 56, No. 5, Jul 30 - Aug 5, 2023