GUWAHATI: Kargil War veteran Mohammad Sanaullah, who was released from Assam’s Goalpara detention centre on Saturday a day after being granted bail, expressed gratitude to Gauhati HC.
"I am extremely happy and thankful to the High Court for setting me free. I have full trust in the legal process and truth will prevail," he was quoted as saying by NDTV. Sanaullah said he was a "genuine Indian". "This is what I get after serving the nation", he lamented.
Sanaullah, who had been a soldier for 30 years, was declared a “foreigner” by the Foreigners’ Tribunal and sent to the detention centre on May 28.
The retired army veteran spoke about the issues he found in the detention centre: “It’s not a detention centre but a jail. It has some issues about hygiene and sanitation which need to be improved. The food served to the inmates also needs to be improved,” the 52-year-old retired Army honourary captain told this newspaper, following his release.
He said that around 230-240 people, declared foreigners by the various Foreigners’ Tribunals, were languishing at the detention centre. He said some of them were very poor and could not fight their cases in court.
After Sanaullah was released from the detention centre, he was taken to Amingaon in Kamrup (rural) district where the case against him was lodged. Later, following the conduct of formalities including biometrics of iris of his eyes and fingerprints of both hands as ordered by the court, he left for his Guwahati residence.
Following retirement in 2017, Mohammad Sanaullah had joined Assam’s Border Police in December last year where he was working as a sub-inspector. Ironically, Border Police are tasked to detect and detain illegal immigrants.
Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising, who fought Sanaullah’s case free of cost, said the Gauhati HC had sent a message by granting bail to him. “I feel a message has been sent across the country by (Gauhati) High Court. It is about the right to life and liberty. Now, we can repose faith in our courts,” she said.
She wondered as to why the Foreigners’ Tribunal had not obtained records about Sanaullah from the armed forces, school board and passport authorities when it has the legal power to do so.
“There cannot be a bigger injustice than this. The investigating officer (Chandramal Das of Border Police) said that the Sanaullah he had investigated was a labourer. His thumb impression was taken. I have seen the investigation report. How did the Tribunal declare Sanaullah a foreigner by trusting the documents? This is a threat. It happened with Sanaullah today. It could happen with anyone tomorrow,” Jaising said.
She said the fact that the name of Sanaullah’s father Mohammad Ali figured on the voters’ list of 1966 proved that the retired Army officer is a citizen of India.
The National Register of Citizens is being updated in Assam based on the March 24, 1971 cut-off date. This means individuals, who migrated to India after March 24, 1971, will be viewed as illegal immigrants.
(With online desk inputs)