Human Rights Law Network
Having a unit in Assam was a long-felt need when in 2008 HRLN decided to set up an office in Guwahati, which is also the principal bench of the Guwahati High Court and the main hub of litigation in the northeast. Today, we have a unit here with one coordinator, two lawyers, one social worker, few law interns and several enthusiastic volunteers. Guwahati Unit is currently providing support for PILs which are filed in other benches of the high court in other states in the northeastern region. Many of these cases are transferred to the principal bench at Guwahati as they need to be decided in the court of the Chief Justice who sits here.
As a state long troubled by ever escalating conflict, civilian populace in Assam has frequently been victim to excesses by both, the State and non-State actors. The unit's first attempt to make a positive difference has been filing of a habeas corpus petition in the Guwahati High Court over the disappearance of a young man after being picked up by the army. The court has ordered a judicial enquiry that will hopefully conclude soon.
The unit recently held a workshop on "Terrorism in Assam – Challeges to Civil Society" in the hope of
mobilising individuals and groups to play a proactive role in securing peace in the state. Besides this, we are also taking care of cases from other states pending in the Guwahati High Court. Thangjam Manorama’s case from Manipur is the most important such case.
Trafficking of women and children is another major problem inflicting the state. The Unit has taken up several cases and consultations involving women and young girls who are victims of trafficking. Also, several cases have been filed under the Domestic Violence Act. The unit has been appointed the official service provider under the Act.
HRLN Guwahati has been deeply involved with the right to food campaign in Assam. The Unit has also done considerable work on RTI. Several RTI applications have also been filed. A major crisis facing Assam is regarding the issue of illegal migration. We intend to study the human rights angle of this issue and work towards a solution in conjunction with civil society. The Assam Unit, though relatively new, is gradually diversify its work an various aspects of human rights.