Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Prove you are not illegal Bangladeshi, Assam foreigners’ tribunal to Indian Army officer, who served for 30 years

In a major embarrassment, an Indian Army officer Mohd Azmal Haque who retired after 30 years of services has been asked by Assam government to prove his citizenship

In a major embarrassment, an Indian Army officer who retired after 30 years of services has been asked by Assam government to prove his citizenship. Mohd Azmal Haque, who had retired last year as Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) has posted a video on social media stating that he had received a notice from government placing him in the doubtful-voter category. Haque had to appear before the Foreigners’ Tribunal to prove that he was not an illegal Bangladeshi living in Assam but he missed the date as he received the order late and now he plans to present himself before the tribunal on October 13. A notice from Foreign’s Tribunal has placed him in the doubtful-voter category and also charged him with having entered India in 1971 without proper documents.

This is not the first time that Haque who was appointed as JCO by the former president late APJ Abdul Kalam has been asked to prove his allegiance to India. He had received a similar notice in 2012 too, then he had submitted all the documents in the tribunal court and the court has declared him Indian citizen. Haque wondered why he had to be humiliated so many times. In his twitter message, he has requested Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose party BJP made the illegal Bangladeshi a poll issue during the Assembly election, the president and the home minister to end this harassment of a citizen.

According to Haque his wife Mumtaz Beghum was also summoned by the tribunal to prove her citizenship. She was earlier accused as illegal immigrant. Haque’s son studies at the Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun and he aspires to serve the Indian Army.

This not the first case, earlier Assam police constable Abu Taher Ahmed was asked to prove his Indian citizenship. Aman Wadud, a lawyer fighting these cases had said earlier to DNA that most of these cases are marred by arbitrary and shoddy investigations. “The investigating authorities, like the Election Commission of India and the Assam Border police, randomly pick and frame Indian citizens as illegal immigrants and send their cases to the Foreigners Tribunal. More than 80% of these so-called “illegal immigrants” are held Indian by Foreigners Tribunal,” Wadud was quoted by DNA.

Why its keep on happening in Assam? Basically, the citizenship issue in Assam is a very contentious, political and old one. In last Assembly election, it was a big poll plank on which opposition lead by BJP fought and won. A tripartite talk between centre, state and All Assam Students Union (AASU) in 1985 lead to signing of Assam Accord that says people who have migrated from East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh) upto the midnight of March 24, 1971 as legal migrants and eligible for citizenship of India including Assam.

To know who migrated upto the midnight of March 24, 1971, the state government could not find a viable method for many years. It attempts to create a data base of people who had lived in Assam before the cut-off date in 2010 was mired by chaos, police firing and it had to be stopped. However, with the use of technology, the legacy data of National Register of Citizens (NRC) 1951 and electoral rolls up to March 24, 1971 have been digitsed and published and now every citizen of Assam has to find their ancestor details to claim their citizenship and large number of people have already done it.

This entire exercise of finding the data, putting it at one place and asking citizens to prove their citizenship. And, finally publishing of a new citizen register was to be done by March 31, 2017 after repeated extension but the deadline has again been extended to December 31. This issue is being directly monitored by Supreme Court of India since 2015.


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