After Soldier Row, Assam Police Efforts To Catch Migrants Faces Scrutiny

Police say they go door-to-door checking papers and suspects are told to bring proper papers to the police station in 21 days.

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Retired army officer Mohd Azmal Haque was accused of being an illegal immigrant by Assam Police


Guwahati:  After a retired a retired Army soldier was accused of being an illegal immigrant last week in Assam, the entire process of identifying foreigners by the Assam Police has come under the scanner. Many have accused the police of picking up innocent people just to demonstrate they are doing their job.

"Assam Police is part of a conspiracy against innocent Indians. I will drag Assam Police to court, I am victimized. I will fight for other victims who are harassed in same way," Mohd. Ajmal Haque, who retired as a Junior Commissioned Officer last year after serving in the Army for 30 years, said.

Mr Haque was accused of being an illegal immigrant by Assam Police which later admitted that they had made a mistake.

"In 2012, they served me a notice; I went to the foreigners' tribunals and proved that I am Indian, they told it was a mistake... Now they served a notice to my husband and again they say it was by mistake... how they can do that?" Mr Haque's wife Mumtaz Begum told NDTV.

The incident has turned the spotlight on the verification process followed by Assam Police to identify foreigners.

Police say they go door-to-door checking papers and suspects are told to bring proper papers to the police station in 21 days. Many a times, the suspects simply disappear. If a case reaches the Foreigners' Tribunal and a suspect is found guilty, the police are told to arrest him.

But by the time the Tribunal's order reaches police and police act, the convicted illegal immigrant often just vanishes.

"The moment some suspected person gets a hint, he does a vanishing act. More than 40 thousand suspected migrants are vanishing and we had to constitute a task force. There is a lacking in the law that we cannot arrest them on the basis of suspicion," said RM Singh, DGP (Border), Assam.

The numbers, placed before the Assam Assembly recently, are staggering.

From 1986 to December last year, around 4.7 lakh cases went to trial. About 2.7 lakh cases were disposed of and 80,000 people were declared foreigners, the government said.

About 1,000 convicted foreigners are currently at detention centres awaiting deportation, office sources added.

The verification process is conducted by a special unit of the Assam Police - the Border Police - and NDTV followed such a unit at work.

"We are facing lots of problems. We go out to serve notices and don't get the people since they are daily wagers and then people keep on shifting their location and most of the people who are declared as foreigners go missing to avoid arrest," said Mohd.Prasad Ali, Sub Inspector, Assam Police (Border branch) told NDTV.


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