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Assam has a porous border with Bangladesh and infiltration is a permanent concern. (File)
The three men who allegedly signed the case report on Mohammad Sanaulla – the former soldier from Assam who has been declared a foreigner — now claim no investigation has been done in the case. The men have filed a complaint with the police, accusing Chandramal Das, the officer in the case, of fabricating the investigation report.
On basis of that report, Sanaulla – who served the army for 30 years and then joined the Assam Border Police – was arrested and locked up at a detention centre last week. He has been accused of being a foreigner who has been living illegally in the country.
Chandramal Das, an officer of the Assam Border Police who is now retired, has told NDTV that army Subedar Mohammad Sanaulla was not the man he investigated. But the man whom he investigated was also called Sanaulla, which is why a mix-up of reports at the administrative level may have occurred, he said.
It is however, not clear, how accounts of witnesses in Sanaulla’s village Kolohikash in Kamrup district, ended up in his report.
“I had never met that police officer nor was called for an investigation,” Kuran Ali, one of the alleged witnesses told NDTV. “In 2008-09, I was not even in my village. I was in Guwahati, working with the government. Even Sanaullah was not here. He was with Army,” he said.
At the time of the alleged investigation — in May 2008 and August 2009 – Mohammad Sanaulla was in Manipur, conducting counter-insurgency operations, his service record shows.
Even Chandramal Das has accepted that Sanaulla was not in Assam during that period.
Kuran Ali, and two other alleged witnesses — Sahaban Ali and Amjad Ali — have separately filed complaints with the police against Chandramal Das.
Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, a senior police officer, has told NDTV that they are “acting as per law” and “following the tribunal’s order”.
But the case has raised the locals’ concerns and doubts about the methods of the Foreigners’ Tribunal, which is tasked with verification of identity to weed out illegal migrants.
Assam having a porous border with Bangladesh, infiltration from across the border is a permanent concern. But locals say such slipshod methods — coupled with the government’s overdrive to find foreigners — are leading to unending harassment of genuine Indians.
The locals also worry that this same mechanism might be adopted in case of those left out of the final version by the National Register of Citizens.
“We really don’t understand what is happening. People are being served notices thrice, they get their names cleared through hearing, and yet notices keep coming in,” Kuran Ali said.
Mohammad Foyjal Hoque, a villager, said: “After the new government came in, these cases have increased. If a person like Sanaulla had to go to jail, what will happened to normal people like us? Look at the NRC. In one night, 3 lakh objections were filed against genuine people”.