- A retired army man in Assam was declared a foreigner and locked up
- Report on retired army officer, who was arrested, said he was a labourer
- Assam Police is yet to react to the charge that it could be a goof-up
A former police officer from Assam -- on the basis of whose investigation a 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, says 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 terrorists in Kashmir and Manipur. Later he worked as a Sub-Inspector in the Assam Border police -- which deals specifically with the detection of illegal migrants.
The report, on the basis of which Sanaulla was arrested, said he was a labourer.
Sanaulla's family - which is trying to get justice from the court -- has claimed that the Border Police had made the accusation without conducting any investigation and later fudged the records.
"The former army man, Sanaulla, is not the person whom I investigated. It is a case of mistaken identity," the retired Assam Border Police officer told NDTV. "The case I was investigating was different. He was a different Sanaulla," he added.
Asked how the mix-up could happen, he said: "It is an incident 10 years ago, so I don't remember. I can only say that may be due to some administrative loopholes, the report of one person went into the record of another and both had same name."
The Assam Police is yet to react to the charge that it could be an administrative goof-up. "We are acting as per law. We are following tribunal's order. Sanaulla has been discharged of his duties in Border Police," said senior police officer Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said earlier this week.
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 hunt for illegal migrants is a continuous process in Assam, a state Bangladeshis can enter easily due to the porous border.
According to the Assam Accord of 1985, anyone who entered the state after 1971 is considered an illegal resident. But many claim they have been illegally declared a foreigner and penalised.
The government has assured that the National Register of Citizens or NRC -- a massive database meant to determine who is Indian -- would solve the issue once for all.