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Names not in NRC, defence veterans told they are still suspected illegal immigrants

A Supreme Court order said those whose cases are pending in tribunals and those who have been declared as “D” (doubtful) voters and their descendants will be kept on hold till their cases are decided by the tribunal.

india Updated: Aug 21, 2018 23:37 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Assam NRC,National Register of Citizens,Defence veterans
People whose name were left out in the National Register of Citizens draft stand in a queue to collect forms to file appeals in Mayong on August 10. (AP file photo)

For Indian Army veteran Azmal Hoque, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was meant to bring a final closure to his struggle to prove that he is a citizen. Instead, it has brought in more confusion.

Hoque, whose son is undergoing training at the National Defence Academy in Dehradun and daughter studies at the Army School in Guwahati, were among the 40,07,707 people who did not make it to the draft.

A curious Hoque went to his native village in Chhaygaon, near Guwahati, to find out the reason and was told that he and his children have been “put on hold” since there is a case pending against him in the foreigners tribunal in Boko.

“In November 2017, the tribunal has declared me an Indian citizen,” an angry Hoque, who retired as a junior commissioned officer from Indian Army after more than 30 years of service, said. To his shock, the local NRC officials told him that the case pending against him has a different case number than the one which has been decided.

But when Haq went to the tribunal in Boko, he did not find a case with the said case number. “There are no records,” he said.

A Supreme Court order said that those whose cases are pending in tribunals and those who have been declared as “D” (doubtful) voters and their descendants will be kept on hold till their cases are decided by the tribunal.

District officials including of the Assam Police’s Border Branch and the Chief Electoral Officer’s office, were tasked with providing data on these cases to NRC secretariat.

NRC State coordinator Prateek Hajela did not respond to queries on why Hoque has been left out of the draft even though he was declared a citizen in 2017.

A senior NRC official had earlier told Hindustan Times that they checked with police’s Border Branch, which marks people as suspected foreigners and refers their cases to foreigners tribunals and had come under fire after this case, and found that there is a case pending against Hoque.

Paratha Sarthi Mahanta, superintendent of police, Kamrup who also looks after the Border Branch in the district, refused to comment. “Check with the NRC or check with tribunals,” he said.

Meanwhile, NRC draft came as a shock for Sanaullah, a retired honorary captain of the Indian Army. Left out of the draft, the reason given to him said he, too, has a case in a foreigners tribunal pending against him.

Unlike Hoque, who could get an opportunity to appear before the tribunal and clear his name, the reason came as complete surprise for the retired army man who could not fathom that he too could be marked a suspected illegal immigrant.

“I have never received any notice from any tribunal. Nor has any policeman ever approached me,” he said, adding that it was only through the NRC officials that he came to know that he has a case pending against him.

“I was made a honorary captain on Republic Day last year by President of India. Yet, this is happening,” Sanaullah said before he drove to the tribunal to look for the case records.

Samsul Hoque, a retired sergeant of the Indian Air Force, who now lives in Barpeta, too, remains a doubtful voter in the records with the NRC officials.

“I was declared an Indian citizen in 2016 when my D voter case came up for a hearing in foreigners tribunal,” he said explaining how Election Commission officials had marked him a suspected illegal immigrant in 1997 but he came to know years later. “I was out on duty serving all over the country,” the Kargil war veteran said.

Hoque too, has been told that his name and that of his descendants is not there in the NRC draft because he is a D voter.

“I feel sad that even after three decades of service to the nation one has to beg for citizenship,” he said. “I hope they correct it,” he said as he prepares to file claims against his exclusion from the draft.

First Published: Aug 21, 2018 16:33 IST