No Eid celebrations for family of Assam ex-army man declared foreigner
Like millions across the world, Sanima Begum too observed the month-long fast during the holy month of Ramzan. But while others celebrated Eid on Wednesday, her house in Assam’s Guwahati was engulfed in grief.
That’s because Begum’s husband Mohammed Sanaullah was declared a foreigner by a tribunal on May 23 and sent to a detention camp meant for non-Indians last week.
The tribunal, a quasi-judicial body that adjudicates cases of illegal immigrants, held that the 52-year-old, who had served in the Indian Army for 30 years and was posted with the Border Organisation of Assam police, had failed to prove that he is an Indian.
“I observed ‘roja’ (religious fast) for the past month but while others celebrated Eid there was nothing for us to celebrate. My husband is in detention and we are at home. We just offered prayers to Allah for his well being and quick return,” said Begum.
On the basis of an inquiry report by an official, the retired subedar was served a notice by the border organisation in 2008 to prove his citizenship.
But last week after the news of Sanaullah’s detention spread, the official from Border Organisation, who has since retired, told television news channels that the person whom he had described as a ‘labourer’ born in Bangladesh in his report was not the same person who has been sent to a detention camp.
Sanaullah’s family hopes now rest on a writ petition filed in Gauhati High Court challenging the tribunal’s order. It is expected to come up for hearing on June 7.
“We were planning elaborate celebrations for Eid this time. I was expecting him to be released before Eid, but it is not in my fortune. We haven’t cooked anything at home. A neighbour sent some eatables, but no one feels like eating” said Begun, between sobs.
Although Sanaullah hails from Kalahikash village in Kamrup Rural district, his family resides in Satgaon locality of Guwahati these days. Besides his wife, his three children — a son and two daughters — also live in the city.
Three witnesses who were named in the 2008 inquiry report filed separate FIRs in Boko police station this week against the retired officer from Border Organisation claiming that they were not present and had not signed the report which named Sanaullah as an illegal immigrant.
At present, there are 986 people in six detention camps across Assam. The camps are meant for persons declared foreigners by 100 tribunals, which deal with cases of people suspected to be illegal immigrants either by the Border Organisation or marked D or doubtful voter in electoral rolls.