Not Able To Prove Citizenship, Kargil War Veteran Sent To Detention Camp In Assam
A Kargil war veteran and winner of President’s medal was apprehended on Wednesday and sent to a detention camp in Goalpara district after foreigner’s tribunal declared him a non-citizen.
Mohammad Sanaullah, currently serving as assistant sub-inspector (ASI) in border police, is a resident of Kolohikash village under Boko police station in Kamrup district. Ironically, Sanaullah’s job as a police officer revolves around identifying, detaining and deporting doubtful citizens and illegal migrants.
Following the arrest, the family approached the Gauhati High Court on Wednesday. Referring to the arrest as “heart-breaking” Sanaullah’s cousin Mohammed Ajmal Hoque, who retired as a junior commissioned officer told The Hindu, “Is this his reward for giving 30 years of his life to the Army defending the country, including fighting in the Kargil War?”
Sanaullah, who voted in the last parliamentary election, was arrested in relation to a 2008 case when his name was listed as a ‘D’ (doubtful) voter in the voter list. Only a month ago, Sanaullah was appointed an ASI in the border police unit.
Preceding his arrest, Sanaullah told the media that he served in the Army for 30 years, from 1987-2017, and he has all the necessary documents required to prove his citizenship.
While his daughter claimed that her father had presented all the needed documents before the tribunal, including voter and ancestral property documents.
Discrepancy in Age
As per the Assam Accord 1985, a non-citizen is someone who entered Assam illegally from Bangladesh after March 24, 1971. The accord was signed to end the six-year-long anti-foreigner agitation in the state.
Sanaullah’s was declared a non-citizen on the ground of discrepancy in age mentioned in various documents submitted by him.
According to the tribunal, there was a mismatch in the year of birth orally communicated by Sanaullah and the year mentioned in the documents submitted by him. During cross-examination, Sanaullah said he joined the Army in 1978, while the documents submitted by him mentioned the joining year as 1987, reported The Wire.
“If I consider it as correct date, then again the question arises in mind that why the opposite party (Sanaullah) is not enrolled in the voter list of 1986 as already by then, he had attained the age of 20 years,” the tribunal judge noted in his analysis of the case.
Questioning the verdict by the tribunal judge, Gauhati high court lawyer Aman Wadud, who will be defending Sanaullah in the HC said, “How could he have it when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 by the 61st amendment to the constitution on March 28, 1989?”
In July last year names of more than 40 lakh of 3.29 crore applicants in Assam were left out of updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) list. Following which, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to give a second chance to the 40 lakh people who have been left out from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft.
The apex Court had said that the government cannot initiate any coercive action against the people who have been left out of the list. The Bench led by Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton Nariman said that the draft NRC does not form the basis of any action from the authorities.
The Bench in consultation with State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela had directed the Centre to ensure that those left out of the draft NRC must receive a fair opportunity to be heard and asked for outlining of a fair standard operating procedure to deal with the claims and objections.
Later in May 2019 order, the Supreme Court held that an order by tribunal court declaring a person as an illegal migrant would prevail over the government’s decision to exclude or include the name from the NRC in Assam. Currently, there are about 100 functioning tribunals in Assam to look into cases in which the state has questioned the citizenship of lakhs of residents.