Mohammad Sanaullah, the retired Indian Army soldier who was declared an illegal immigrant by a tribunal and sent to a detention centre in Assam last month, was released today on bail. The Gauhati High Court, which ordered his release yesterday, had also issued notices to the centre and the state government.
Notices were also issued to the Election Commission, National Register of Citizens (NRC) authorities and the investigation officer of the Assam Border Police Chandramal Das.
Mohammad Sanaullah - who served the army for 30 years and then joined the Assam Border Police - was arrested and locked up at a detention centre on May 29. The 53-year-old 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 Sanaullah 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 Sanaullah was in Manipur, conducting counter-insurgency operations, his service record shows.
Even Chandramal Das has accepted that Subedar Sanaullah was not in Assam during that period. The officer has said that Mohammad Sanaullah was not the man he investigated. But the man whom he investigated was also called Sanaullah, which is why a mix-up of reports at the administrative level may have occurred, he said.
Shahnaz Akhtar, the former soldier's daughter, thanked the media for highlighting the story. "We will continue our fight. We thank NDTV for your effort and also other media as well. It's because of the media that the truth came out," she 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.