Case Study 1: Shahida meets her family after 28 years
Shahida Parvin and her husband Mohammad Anwar live with their four children in the Market Camp of Mohammadpur area in Dhaka city. Shahida and Anwar got married in 1987. The next year Shahida’s parents and siblings migrated to India who now live in Begusarai village in the district of Bihar. Since getting married Shahida never had a chance to visit her family in India. By now both her father and mother have become quite old and often suffer from illnesses due to their old age. However, Shahida did not have any valid citizenship documents such as a passport and living in the camp she didn’t even know that she was entitled to get any such documents as a citizen of Bangladesh. As a result, while she often felt sad and depressed about not being able to meet her family members for such a long time, she could do nothing but cry.
Shahida’s daughter Ruma came to know about the paralegal project of the Council of Minorities (COM) and met a paralegal. The paralegal informed her about the different activities of COM including providing assistance for obtaining citizenship documents such as birth certificates, national identity (NID) cards and passports. Ruma realized that her mother was entitled to get a passport as a Bangladeshi citizen and that the COM paralegals would help her to obtain it. She immediately informed her mother about it and the next day went to the Paralegal Centre to fill up a passport application form for her mother with the help of a paralegal. On 28th May 2015, accompanied by a COM paralegal Shahida went to the regional passport office and submitted her application along with the due fees. A few days later an officer from the Special Branch of Police came to her house and asked for proof of residence such as copies of electricity and gas bills. As the camp residents do not have such documents it was difficult to convince the officer and after a while he left. The date of passport delivery was about a month later on 24th May 2015 and on that day when Shahida went to the passport office she was handed her first ever passport.
Once she received the passport Shahida made arrangements to travel to India and then she finally met her mother and father, and sisters and brothers after 28 long years. Her sadness and depression went away. She is now planning to visit her family in India again sometime within the next few years.