Mohammad Sanaulla, the retired Indian Army soldier who was declared an illegal immigrant by a tribunal and sent to a detention centre in Assam last month, has been given bail by the Gauhati High Court, which has also issued notices to the centre and the state government.
Notices have also been issued to the Election Commission, National Register of Citizens (NRC) authorities and the investigation officer of the Assam Border Police Chandramal Das.
Noted Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising appeared in court on behalf of Mohammad Sanaulla today.
Mohammad 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 month. He has been accused of being a foreigner who has been living illegally in the country.
Earlier this week, three men who allegedly signed the case report on Subedar Sanaulla had claimed that no investigation has been done in the case. They filed a police complaint, accusing Chandramal Das of fabricating the investigation report.
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 Subedar Sanaulla was not in Assam during that period. The officer has said that 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.
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.