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They were served notices in October last year based on a complaint by the border police unit of Assam Police. They appeared in the tribunal with documents in November, but four months on, nothing has happened.

Three brothers from Assam’s Barpeta district, two of whom are in the Army and one in the Central Industrial Security Force, and their mother have been served notices by a foreigners’ tribunal to prove their citizenship.

The eldest of the three Sahidul Islam is a Subedar posted in Kolkata, the second Delbar Hussain is a Naik posted in Lucknow and the youngest Mizanur Rahman is a constable with CISF in Chennai.Their mother Khudeja Begum has also received a similar notice.

They were served notices in October last year based on a complaint by the border police unit of Assam Police. They appeared in the tribunal with documents in November. The next date of hearing is on March 18.

“When the notices came in October, the border police officers told us that there was a mistake and our case will be resolved after presenting documents proving our citizenship in the tribunal. But even after four months nothing has happened,” Sahidul told HT on phone from Barpeta.

There are nearly 100 foreigners’ tribunals in Assam. Those who are declared foreigners by the tribunals are kept in six detention centres. At present there are 938 detainees in them.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre and Assam government to ensure that the human rights of these detainees should not be violated and their stay in the centres should be minimal.
According to Sahidul, both their father as well as grandfather’s names were included in the 1951 National Register of Citizens (NRC) and in subsequent voters lists.

As per the new NRC process, which is underway in Assam to detect foreigners, residents whose names or their parents names were included in the 1951 NRC and subsequent voters lists will be deemed Indians.
“We have served the nation for so many years, but we are being harassed to prove citizenship. We decided to approach the media after four months as our case was not making headway and it is not possible take leave frequently to appear for hearings,” said Sahidul.

This is not the first instance of serving or retired defence personnel serviced notices by foreigners tribunals in Assam to prove citizenship. Nearly half a dozen such cases have been reported in the past two years.

According to an official of the border police in Barpeta, the case against the family was made in 2003 and the family was served notice in October last year.

“The case was initiated because the family could not produce documents of their older place of residence in the same district. Their case is still pending in the tribunal and we are trying to help them,” the official said.

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