Retired Army man asked to prove Indian citizenship in Assam

Retired Assam soldier asked to prove that he is Indian
Image for representation only

03 October, 2017

Mohammad Haque retired as a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) last year after serving the Army for 30 years, but that wasn't proof enough that he was Indian.

The Assam Police claims Mohd Azmal Haque came to India illegally after 1971.

In a major embarrassment, an Indian Army officer who retired after 30 years of services has been asked by Assam government to prove his citizenship. The retired JCO said that he had missed the first date of appearing before the tribunal on September 11as he had received the notice after that date. "I request the Prime Minister, the President, and the Home Minister to end this harassment of a proper citizen", Hoque told CNN-News18. In 2012, his wife Mamtaj Begum was also summoned by the tribunal to prove her citizenship.

Several of these tribunals have been set up in Assam to identify illegal immigrants in the country.

According to records from 2015, the number of tribunals increased to 100 soon after the number of cases on alleged illegal migrants increased, according to India Today report. At this point of time, there are more than 1,000 people lodged in detention centres without the probability of parole. His mother's name was there in 1951 National Register of Citizens (NRC).

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Hoque's son is at present studying in the prestigious Rashtriya Indian Military College in Dehradun while his daughter is at the Army Public School in Narengi, Guwahati.

The illegal infiltration of Bangladeshis has been a sensitive issue in Assam.

Aman Wadud, lawyer-activist from Assam who has taken up Hoque's case, said that he has dealt with similar cases of government officials, who have spent years on the job, being asked to furnish details without any prior investigation.

This entire exercise of finding the data, putting it at one place and asking citizens to prove their citizenship. Local police questioning his nationality post retirement had caused unprecedented outrage on social media platforms with many linking the move to the officer being a Muslim in a BJP-ruled state. And, finally publishing of a new citizen register was to be done by March 31, 2017 after repeated extension but the deadline has again been extended to December 31.

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