Kargil war veteran ‘foreigner’, sent to detention camp; family moves court

The family of a retired honorary lieutenant in the Army, who had fought in the Kargil War, moved the Gauhati High Court on Wednesday as he was declared a “foreigner” by the Foreigners’ Tribunal and sent to a detention centre for illegal immigrants.

Mohammed Sanaullah, 52, was summoned by the Border Police in Guwahati on Tuesday. When he showed up, he was immediately arrested and taken to the detention centre for illegal immigrants in Lower Assam’s Goalpara.

Ironically, he was serving as an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) in the Border Police which is tasked to identify doubtful citizens as well as illegal immigrants. The cases of such individuals are heard and disposed of by the various Foreigners’ Tribunals.

The parents of Sanaullah are no more. He has his wife, two daughters and a son. He was served a notice by the Foreigners’ Tribunal of Boko last year. Subsequently, he appeared before it four to five times during hearings. Individuals served such notices are required to prove their Indian citizenship with documentary evidence.

Retired junior commissioned officer (JCO), Md. Ajmal Haque, said the family of Sanaullah and some retired Army personnel, including him, had filed an “appeal” in the Gauhati HC challenging the judgement of the Foreigners’ Tribunal.

“He (Sanaullah) was born in 1967 in Assam and he joined the Army in 1987. Post-retirement in 2017 as an honorary lieutenant, he had joined the Border Police and was serving as an ASI,” Ajmal said.

“This is the reward of his 30 years of selfless service in the Army during which he had also fought in the Kargil War. This is a sad day for ex-servicemen like us,” he said.

Sanaullah, who exercised his franchise in the last Parliamentary elections, is Ajmal’s cousin.

“During one of the hearings, he had mistakenly mentioned the year of his joining the Army as 1978 and based on the gaffe, the Foreigners’ Tribunal declared him a foreigner. It argued that nobody can join the Army at the age of 11 years,” Ajmal said.

He too was served a notice by the Foreigners’ Tribunal a few years ago based on a report of the Border Police. However, he got a lease of life soon after when the Border Police apologised to him saying that the notice to him was served by mistake. Subsequently, the case was disposed of.

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