Travesty of justice

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 6/4/2019 12:39:59 PM IST

 In a case of mistaken identity, a former army subedar( or captain) of the Indian army was sent to jail after being declared a foreigner by a Tribunal. A former police officer from Assam –Chandramal Das - on the basis of whose investigation the retired army man was declared a foreigner and locked up last week - has blamed it on a mix-up in records. Chandramal Das, the officer of the Assam Border Police, said he had investigated a different man, also called Sanaulla. Mohammad Sanaulla, who was arrested last week, had served as a Subedar in the army till 2017 and fought militants in Kashmir and Manipur. He later joined Assam Police as a Sub-Inspector and ironically dealt specifically with the detection of illegal migrants. Sanaulla was arrested on the basis of reports that he was a labourer. According to his family, the Border Police had concluded that Sanaulla was a foreigner without undertaking due process of investigating his antecedents. Mohammad Sanaulla got to know about the case in December 2017 - eight years after it was registered at the Foreigners’ Tribunal in 2009. The problem was discovered after he failed to spot his name in the first draft of the National Citizens’ Register. The officer accepted Sanaulla’s claim that at the time of the alleged verification -in May 2008 and August 2009- he was not even in Assam. His service record shows he was posted in Manipur for counter-insurgency operations. The recent National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam has excluded 40 lakh people from its final draft list and has it failed to resolve the illegal immigration debate in Assam. However, for lack of any mechanism to identify and deport foreign nationals, the NRC remains the sole option. With Assam under the grip of NRC and which has created a huge problem of verification, the Supreme Court took note of the matter, and CJI Justice Ranjan Gogoi urged NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela to ensure that due process is followed. The controversy over NRC has been under heated discussion to scrap Article 35. However, the issue of deportation of all immigrants is hasn’t worked out successfully as a solution. The apex court in this context has slammed at the Assam government for failing to address the issue of illegal immigrants. However, NRC has several lacunae since it relies only on documents, which are in several ways, not authenticated because of the huge numbers. The Centre has maintained that the NRC exercise in Assam is solely aimed at weeding out illegal immigrants in the state, those unable to produce the requisite documents to prove their citizenship. Assam, which has faced an influx of people from what is now Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state with an NRC, which was first prepared in 1951. The government was also criticised after over 40 lakh names were left out of the NRC on the intervening night of 31 December 2017 and 1 January 2018. What contradicts the Centre’s stand on expelling illegal immigrants from India is its persistent push for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. In a reversal, the CAB seeks to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslims- members of minority communities- from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan even if they don’t have the documents to prove that they have lived in India for six years, the stipulated period.

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