Quint Impact | Viewers Bring Back Few Small Joys to Sawata’s Life

Quint Impact | Viewers help Sawata join back her dance classes after her dad’s death in a detention camp in Assam.

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 Quint Impact | Viewers Bring Back Few Small Joys to Sawata’s Life

I shot the documentary Diaries from a Detention Camp in September 2019, soon after Assam NRC was announced.

The final NRC left out more than 19 lakh people, and since its announcement, the pressing question has been: Will these 19 lakh people end up in detention camps?

I was keen to find out about those who were incarcerated and had to spend their life in a detention camp. What happens to their families? Can they live a normal life once released from the detention camp?

I travelled to Goalpara in Assam to seek answers. There, I met 10-year-old Sawata Dey. Her father, Subrata Dey, was put in a detention camp in 2018 due to a mismatch in his name on his voter ID card. Declared a ‘foreigner’, he was arrested.

Within two months, Subrata lost his life in the detention camp. Sawata had believed her father would be released but one day, they brought home his dead body.

Tridip K Mandal with Sawata and her mother, Kamini, in Goalpara, Assam. (September 2019)
Tridip K Mandal with Sawata and her mother, Kamini, in Goalpara, Assam. (September 2019)
(Photo: The Quint)

Sawata loves dancing and used to attend dance classes. However, when her father died, life came to a standstill. She longed for new clothes but nobody bought her anything new.

Little Sawata’s story that struck a chord with the audience, and they reached out to The Quint to bring back some joy in Sawata’s life. Soon, contributions poured in from across the world.

Today, Sawata has joined a new school, her fee has been paid by some generous readers of The Quint. She has even resumed dance classes with the support of the audience.

“The video was so informative. I didn’t know detention camps exist in India. The child is of the same age as my daughter. I felt very bad and tried to help them in a small way.”
Vinod Upputuri
“My father had to leave his home in Bangladesh and move to India during Partition. So I could connect with the story. I felt real pain watching the little girl say “After my father’s death nobody gets me new clothes”. Good real stories touch the heart.”
Nilotpal Bhattacharya

You may ask what the big impact is.

Sometimes, social impact is not about bringing about a big change in society at large but making a difference in just one person’s life. In this case, Sawata’s.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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