Retired Army JCO Branded Bangladeshi By Mistake: Assam Police
Retired Junior Commissioned Officer Mohammed Azmal Hoque says he has been harassed over his citizenship before.
The Assam Police admitted to a case of “mistaken identity” on Tuesday, 3 October, weeks after retired Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) Mohammed Azmal Hoque was served a notice asking him to prove his Indian nationality.
An initial inquiry revealed it to be a “case of mistaken identity due to the close similarity in the names of the JCO and the suspected foreigner to whom the notice was intended to be served,” Assam Director General of Police Mukesh Sahay said on Tuesday.
On 20 September, Hoque was issued a notice by the Foreigners’ Tribunal, asking him to prove that he was not an illegal Bangladeshi migrant.
The notice placed the retired Army personnel from Assam in the D-voter or doubtful-voter category.
The notice was intended to be served to Md Azmal Haque, son of Maqbool Ali, of village Kalahikas under Boko police station but was mistakenly issued to retired Army JCO Azmal Haque, son of Mokbul Hussain of the same village.
It clearly shows that the case was registered against a different person and not the retired JCO. Unfortunately, due to the similarity of their names, the notice appears to have been wrongly served to the retired JCO.
A Case of Mistaken Identity
Preliminary inquiry suggests that the local police could not serve the notice in the first attempt and brought it back to Boko police station but the retired JCO had it collected through his brother though the border police had suggested that the notice was perhaps not meant for him, reported PTI.
"The Chief Minister (Sarbananda Sonowal) has directed that the matter should be investigated expeditiously and accountability for lapses, if any, resulting in the wrong service of the notice," Sahay said.
The offices of Director General (Border) and Superintendent of Police of Kamrup (Rural) district have been directed to investigate the matter and submit the findings, fixing the accountability, within a week.
The Assam Police has already contacted senior Army officials and explained the matter to them, and is also in touch with the retired JCO to resolve the matter, the DGP added.
“How can they send a notice out of the blue, without any investigation in the first place,” Azmal Hoque’s lawyer Aman Wadud had asked.
He has served for India, across the country and at crucial borders, including India-Pakistan and India-China. How can they question the nationality of someone like him?
Addressing the media, the retired JCO had earlier said he had missed the first date of appearance before the tribunal on 11 September, as he had received the notice after that date. He said he would appear before the tribunal on 13 October.
“Why do I Have to be Humiliated so Many Times?”
In 2012 as well, 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. 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.
Veteran’s Wife Served Notice Too
He is not the first member of his family to have been served with such a notice. In 2012, his wife Mamtaj Begum was also summoned by the tribunal to prove her citizenship.
The issue was brought to the attention of the Army by the lawyer Wadud’s Twitter post where he said:
Replying to Wadud's tweet, Major DP Singh, notified the Eastern Command, which said "necessary assistance will be provided to the veteran".
Major Navdeep Singh, Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court said that lawyers like Wadud must be thanked for providing legal aid in such cases. He added:
Obviously, there’s something wrong at the end of the civil administration in this case when the citizenship of a retired Junior Commissioned Officer of the Indian Army (a Group B/Class II gazetted officer of the central government) has been questioned.
He also said, “I’m sure the government and the Indian Army would stand with full might behind him and also ensure that the men and women in uniform who have served us are not embarrassed in this manner ever again.”
(This story has been updated. With PTI inputs)
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