Human Rights Violation: BHRC Sends Notice Over Bangladeshi Woman Jailed After Sentence Completion
Logo of Bihar Human Rights Commission. Image Courtesy: Facebook
Patna: The Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) has expressed serious concern over a Bangladeshi woman who was lodged for months in a Bihar jail last year, even after the completion of her sentence for entering the country illegally. The BHRC issued a notice to the additional chief secretary of the state home department to reply in this connection.
This has come as good news for Riya Afreen Rupa, who has been waiting to return to her home country Bangladesh for over a year. Currently, she is languishing at the Bihar Institute of Correctional Administration (BICA), in Hajipur, the headquarters of Vaishali district.
The BHRC's judge Ujjawal Kumar Dubey, while hearing the petition of Muzaffarpur-based human rights lawyer Subodh Kumar Jha seeking justice for Rupa, on Wednesday observed that it is a violation of human rights to lodge Rupa in jail after completion of her sentence.
The BHRC, in its notice, directed the additional chief secretary to reply by November 29 in this connection, and the next hearing will be on December 7, 2022.
Jha told NewsClick that he approached the BHRC as it was wrong to jail Rupa after the completion of her sentence because she is hapless. It is a positive development that the BHRC has found negligence of the jail authorities in lodging her in prison after her sentence ended.
Jha said that Rupa, a mother of two minor boys, was lodged at the Biharsharif Jail, in the Nalanda district, for more than seven months after her sentence ended on January 22, 2021.
"She was released only after the Bihar Human Rights Commission intervened upon my request and shifted to BICA in August 2021," he added.
"Rupa was arrested on December 5, 2019, for illegal entry into the country after she was found roaming suspiciously in Ahiyapur area, under the Noorsarai Police Station in Nalanda. A local court sentenced her to one-year imprisonment along with seven days' additional imprisonment for being unable to pay Rs 500 fine," Jha said.
At the time of her arrest, according to the petitioner, Rupa had an identity card bearing her name, her husband's name, residential address and the district's name in the Bengali language.
Delhi-based legal researcher Sarah Imran said the BHRC has rightly pointed out that it was a violation of human rights to lodge Rupa in jail after the completion of sentence. "No person should be deprived of his or her liberty in this manner as it goes against article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which protects the right to life and liberty of a foreign national in the same manner as an Indian citizen," said Imran.
According to the police, Rupa said in her statement that she was extremely poor and could not afford medical treatment for one of her ailing sons. Subsequently, a Bangladeshi man known to her "promised to arrange money and a job in India". However, he "trafficked her to Kolkata" and left her on the streets to fight for survival. Later, she boarded a train to Nalanda and begged for food and money.
Despite spending one year in jail in Bihar for entering the country illegally without a proper passport and visa, the 27-year-old Bangladeshi's hope to reunite with her children and family has become a far-fetched dream due to official apathy.
As per the official process, Rupa's identity proof and documentation work have to be authenticated by the state home department and the Union Home Ministry through the Bangladesh High Commission before her return.
It appears she has to wait for more time to return to her country. However, the concerned officials of the state and the central governments can facilitate her return home soon on humanitarian grounds.
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