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Veteran Who Served Indian Army for 30 Years Declared 'Foreigner', Sent to Detention Centre in Assam

After retiring as a soldier, Sanaullah had been serving as a Sub-Inspector of Border Police under Kamrup rural district. From 2015 to 2017, he had taken part in three Counter Insurgency operations near Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. He was also part of CI operations in Manipur from 2007-2010.

Karishma Hasnat | CNN-News18

Updated:May 30, 2019, 11:44 AM IST
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Veteran Who Served Indian Army for 30 Years Declared 'Foreigner', Sent to Detention Centre in Assam
File photo of retired Indian army soldier Mohammed Sanaullah from Kolohikas village in Kamrup district of Assam (CNN-News18)

Guwahati: May 23 – a day that celebrated India’s democracy turned out to be the darkest in the life of a retired honorary captain of the Indian Army. 52-year-old Mohammed Sanaullah from Kolohikas village in Kamrup district of Assam was declared a ‘foreigner’ by the Boko Foreigners’ Tribunal that very day.

Having served the Indian Army for 30 years, the retired soldier could not believe that he was no longer considered a citizen of this country. On Tuesday evening, Sanaullah called to say, “I have been detained” – his voice was heavy with all that he has been through, but he remained hopeful, thinking it to be a minor anomaly that led to the wrong judgement.

“I was enrolled in the army in 1987, but they wrote it incorrectly as 1978 – which makes it only 11 years when I joined service, my date of birth being 1967,” Sanaullah innocently remarked.

Sanaullah spent the entire night at the Amingaon police station, and appeared at the Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) next morning, from where he would proceed to the detention camp –his fate decided and now resting in others’ hands.

“He has been declared a Foreigner, and we have taken him into custody. We will proceed as per existing rules and guidelines,” said Kamrup Superintendent of Police, Parthasarathi Mahanta.

After retiring as a soldier, Sanaullah had been serving as Sub-Inspector of Border Police at the Baihata Chariali police station under Kamrup rural district. During his military career, he had taken part in three Counter Insurgency operations while being posted with 26 Rashtriya Rifles in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir and 33 Field Workshop in Kupwara near Line of Control ​(LoC) from 2015 to 2017. He was also part of CI operations in Imphal West district of Manipur from 2007-2010.

“After serving the nation for so many years, this is what I get?” asked Sanaullah.

His daughter Shahnaaz Akhtar is worried about her father and expects the army to stand by its soldiers when the need arises.

When contacted, Army sources in New Delhi told News18 that they are in touch with Assam police on the issue.

On the other hand, Brigadier Ranjit Barthakur (retired) called it an unfortunate scenario for an honourably discharged army veteran.

“This is really sad. If he was a Bangladeshi, how could he be serving the Army for 30 years and then the Border Police? The verification for Indian Army is extensively done by the state government and the Centre. My name did not figure in the first draft NRC, and when I wrote to authorities, I was told by someone that the process is no different for a Brigadier. It has totally been a mechanical process.”

Sanaullah’s wife and three children have also been left out of the complete draft of National Register of Citizens, while his elder brother and his family have been declared Indians. For proof of verification, Sanaullah had submitted documents in the form of Voters’ List, his school certificate as proof of birth, passport and other documents. But a copy of the judgement stated that he had ‘miserably failed’ to establish his parental linkage, or ‘submit any proof to establish the fact that he is an Indian citizen by birth’.

Retired army JCO Azmal Hoque, who served the nation for three decades, but whose NRC application has been ‘put on hold’ called it a ‘conspiracy’ against his comrade. Questioning the government’s commitment towards providing security to ex-servicemen, he termed the process harassing and humiliating.

“I am extremely sad. It is not a sane judgement – the court did not value any evidence that Sanaullah produced including his service certificate and identity card. They changed the enrollment year from 1987 to 1978. It’s all a conspiracy,” said Hoque who would be appearing for a hearing on June 13 to prove his Citizenship.

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