Retired army JCO in Assam, appointed by Late Abdul Kalam, asked to prove Indian citizenship

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An Indian Army’s retired Junior Commissioned Officer, Mohd. Azmal Haque has been accused of being an illegal immigrant by the Assam Police after having served the forces for 30 years.

In a strange but common situation in Assam, the officer has been served notice to prove citizenship by the Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT). Azmal Haque, who joined the Indian Army as a mechanical engineer in September 1986 and served the Indian Army for 30 years, last held the rank of a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) when he retired. He was appointed by then President late APJ Abdul Kalam in 2003.

This is not the first time Haque has had to face such humiliation. Haque’s wife Mamataj Begum was accused as illegal immigrant earlier, however, Foreigners’ Tribunal later declared her an Indian citizen.

Ex Army officer was born in Kamrup district of Assam in 1968, “My father’s name (Maqbool Ali) is in the 1966 voter’s list, and in village surveys in 1961, 1962 and we have kheraj patta from 1963, while my mother’s name (Rahimon Nesa) is mentioned in the 1951 National Register of Citizens (NRC),” he says.

Haque also said that the summon states, that he had entered India after 1971 without any documents. National Register of Citizens, 1951 is a register prepared after the conduct of the Census of 1951 in respect of each village, showing the houses or holdings in a serial order and indicating against each house or holding the number and names of persons staying therein.

“I have served the Indian Army for 30 years,” Hoque said adding that he had received the notice asking him to appear before a local tribunal on October 13 with relevant documents to prove his Indian citizenship.

The retired JCO said, he had missed the first date of appearing before the tribunal on September 11 as he had received the notice after that date.

He said, he will appear before the tribunal on October 13. “In 2012 also, I had received a notice saying I was a doubtful voter but I submitted all documents in the tribunal court and it had declared me as an Indian citizen”, he was quoted by PTI.

“Why do I have to be humiliated so many times? I request the prime minister, the president and the home minister to end this harassment of a proper citizen,” Hoque said.

These registers covered each and every person enumerated during the Census of 1951 and were kept in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers according to instructions issued by the Government of India in 1951. Later these registers were transferred to the Police in the early 1960s, as reported.

Azmal Haque’s son is also a student of the prestigious Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC), Dehradun, which is a feeder institute to NDA, NAVAC and Indian Defense Services. He has also expressed his desire to serve Indian Army.

Haque exclaimed, “I am a khilonjia axomiya (someone whose origins are in Assam); I belong to this soil. Why is the government trying to harass us on communal grounds.”

Another such incident occurred when earlier Assam Police had accused its own Constable of being an illegal immigrant. On September 21, 2017, the Foreigners Tribunal had declared him an Indian citizen as well.

Aman Wadud, a Guwahati based activist and advocate said that it was a modus operandi of Assam Police. Indian citizens are being accused as illegal immigrants without any investigations.

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