They Said ‘Free Us From Here Or Kill Us Here If You Can’t – Pray For Us That We Die As Early As Possible’ – Letter From a Citizen Of a Terrified Nation To Assam BJP Chief
“Please try to think why so many people are committing suicide. That too mostly Bengali Hindu, for whom you claim to be the protector!”
A letter to Ranjeet Kumar Das,
State President, Bharatiya Janata Party, Assam
I just came back from the funeral of Amrit Das of Barpeta Road, near your home. I am sure you have heard the news of his custodial death in Goalpara detention camp. Maybe you were busy in the election campaign and thus couldn’t manage time to meet the bereaved family members.
But they remembered you in gratitude. They acknowledge how you helped the deceased by providing him one thousand rupees in a closed envelope. You wrote the address of a lawyer on top of the envelope and asked Amrit to meet him.
Amrit did the same as you suggested. He met the lawyer, fought his reference case in the foreigners’ tribunal. But unfortunately, your lawyer ditched him after a few rounds of hearing. Amrit took another lawyer, who made money out of Amrit’s misery for thirteen months. As expected on a fine day Amrit was declared foreigner and sent to detention, his childhood friend Sushil, an Assamese who went testify Amrit Indianness informed the family.
From May 20, 2017, Amrit was in detention till his death. I am sure; you knew that he was not a foreigner but was framed by the border police. His father’s name featured in pre-1971 documents like the electoral roll. But the foreigners’ tribunal didn’t believe him as your government instructed them to be ‘strict’. I heard your government has also given targets to declare as many foreigners as possible. And your tribunal members have learnt how to declare as foreigners as possible. Do you know what they did to Amrit Das? They found fault in age difference with his father! Amrit paid the price of your (maybe Congress government’s) employees’ inefficiency with his life.
Sir, Amrit’s family members have no complaints against you; they love you; they voted you to power. Maybe they will vote your alliance partner in the upcoming election. They are grateful to you for the monetary help you provided to Amrit.
Sir, I wonder, if they know that your party president Amit Shah calls Amrit Das a ‘termite’; if they know that your government is building more detention centre to kill many others like Amrit; if they realise that you have no moral courage to speak for them; if they understand that you are befooling them in the name of providing them security – how would you feel sir?
Sir, I met Amrit Das and other detainees in Goalpara detention centre last year. I asked them, what should I tell the government and people outside the detention? They had just one request “Free us from here or kill us here if you can’t – pray for us that we die as early as possible”. I felt I was listening to those words from Jews detainees inside Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi Germany.
Sir, in last one year I have realised that the lives of thousands of D voters and people with reference case are no way less traumatising than those Jews under Hitler’s regime. Maybe more traumatic. I am sure you know how the list of suicides is increasing every passing month. How could so many people commit suicide only because of the fear of detention?
I know, you are busy but my humble request, please try to think why so many people are committing suicide. That too mostly Bengali Hindu, for whom you claim to be the protector!
Anyway, would you like to know what the biggest worry of Amrit Das’s family members is? While Amrit’s lifeless body was burning in flames, his son in law told me, “Fazal chacha was his companion in the detention cell, please bring him out; otherwise, he will also die.”
I am looking forward to seeing you at the courtyard of Amrit Das.
Abdul Kalam Azad
Citizen of a terrified nation.
(This article first appeared on Abdul Kalam Azad’s Facebook)