For the much-harassed Hindus and Muslims in Assam suspected of being illegal Bangladeshi settlers, there is now a glimmer of hope: in recent days, authorities have released 20 people held in endless detention long after serving their 3 year sentences, from special camps in Goalpara and Tezpur.
Altogether 56 people are to be freed, out of 140 applicants. Most have been treated as prisoners for life, having served out their terms. There was no relief for the rest because their submissions were ‘not in order,’ according to local media reports. However, bowing to the twin pressures of international opinion and an increasingly hostile press, state officials have offered to help the barely literate poor prisoners unable to write out a legible prayer seeking their overdue release.
The sudden surge of official mercies comes in the wake of the recent death of two 60-plus men in jail. Both men suffered from acute mental and physical problems. Civil rights groups allege that even during their last hours they did not get much medical attention, whether in prison or when they were shifted to civil hospitals.