Is Mohammed Sanaullah being purposely targeted in Assam?

Mohammed Sanaullah, the Kargil war veteran who was declared ‘foreigner’ by a Foreigners’ Tribunal in Assam and sent to a Detention Camp in Goalpara, may now be out on bail, but there are several grave concerns about the manner in which he was treated.

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Image Courtesy: Twitter

Is there even a case now?
To begin with, Chandrabaran Das, the Border Police official (now retired) who had initially filed a report flagging Sanaullah’s citizenship, has clarified that this is a case of mistaken identity. In an interview to NDTV, Das who was a sub-inspector with the Assam Border Police when he filed the report in 2009, says that these are two different men with the same name i.e Mohammed Sanaullah. His report had mentioned that Mohammed Sanaullah was an illiterate man and daily wage earner who had confessed that he originally hailed from Bangladesh. 

In light of this revelation, all proceedings against the war veteran should have been summarily quashed as now there is no real case against him. The fact, that this hasn’t happened yet, makes one wonder if he is being targeted.

Why the deliberate humiliation? 
A week after the revelation about mistaken identity, the case has still not been dismissed and Mohammed Sanaullah is only out on bail. Why was a man who has committed no crime forced to spend time behind bars at a detention camp and then be required to seek bail, instead of being allowed to just walk free with dignity? This reeks of deliberate humiliation, once again making one wonder if he is being targeted.

But Mohammed Sanaullah’s humiliation did not end there. According to the provisions of his bail order, the man who had dedicated 30 years of his life serving the nation in some of the most hostile and insurgency prone areas, will now be kept under surveillance almost like a criminal, as Mohammed Sanaullah is required to submit his biometric data to the authorities. The judgment says, “… prior to releasing the applicant on bail, the biometrics of the iris of both eyes, the fingerprints of both hands and photograph of the petitioner shall be obtained.”

A copy of his order may be read here

Privacy concerns
This immediately raises a few concerns. Firstly, it appears to be a violation of Mohammed Sanaullah’s right to privacy as biometric data is private and citizens are not required to share it except in case of registering for Aadhaar. Secondly, Mohammed Sanaullah has not done anything to merit recording his biometric data and no details have been given as to how long this biometric data will be store and under what kind of security. Is this yet another example of deliberate targeting?

Are we now doubting the Army’s background checks?
If there are still doubts about Mohammed Sanaullah’s citizenship, as a result of which he was required to seek bail, and the charges against him have still not been dropped, then are we now doubting the stringent background checks the Indian Army conducts while recruiting personnel? If Mohammed Sanaullah was an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh, are we saying that none of the authorities in the Indian Army were able to spot this as a result of which a ‘foreigner’ was not only recruited in our defence forces, but also went on to serve for 30 years? In a country where people across the political spectrum and socio-economic backgrounds have unshakable faith and the utmost regard for the brave men and women who risk their lives to defend our freedoms, are we actually saying we don’t trust the Indian Army?




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