Mohammad Azmal Haque served in the Indian Army for 30 years before retiring as a Junior Commissioned Officer last year. He lives in Guwahati, Assam. On October 13, he will have to prove that he is an Indian citizen.
Appointed as the Junior Commissioned Officer in the Indian Army by former President APJ Abdul Kalam and now retired after having served the forces for 30 years, ex-army engineer Mohammad Azmal Haque has been asked to prove that he is an Indian citizen.
The foreigners tribunal has summoned Azmal Haque to appear before it on October 13 with documents to prove that he is not an illegal migrant from Bangladesh living in India.
Azmal Haque's wife Mumtaz Begum had to go through the same process in 2012 when Azmal Haque was still a mechanical engineer with the Indian Army serving at Chandigarh.
Azmal Haque received a notice from the Foreigner's Tribunal last month asking him to appear before it with documents that may prove that he is a citizen of India by birth. The notice had asked Azmal Haque to present his case before September 11. But, the notice landed his place after the expiry of date.
Azmal Haque got another notice later asking him to appear before the foreigners tribunal in Guwahati on October 13. The tribunal has listed him in the category of 'doubtful voters'.
Several foreigners tribunals have been set up in Assam to identify illegal immigrants in the country. These tribunals were set up in Assam under the Foreigner (Tribunal) Order of 1964 to determine the status of citizens whose Indian nationality is found to be doubtful.
First such tribunal came up in 1986 after the Assam Accord signed in 1985 between AASU and the Rajiv Gandhi government at the Centre. The agreement fixed March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshi migrants in Assam.
As per 2015, the number of tribunals increased to 100 following the complaints about the increase in the number of cases related to alleged illegal migrants. It was a big election issue in Assam during the last Assembly polls in 2015. The Sarbananda Sonowal government has looked to strengthen the tribunals to keep BJP's election promise.
The summons sent to Azmal Haque states that he arrived in India after 1971 following the political and national upheaval in Bangladesh. But, Azmal Haque has a different story to tell. According to Azmal Haque, his father Maqbool Ali was an Indian citizen.
Maqbool Ali's name, according to Azmal Haque, was in the 1966 voter's list and also in village surveys in done in 1961-62. He says he has the kheraj patta from 1963. His mother Rahimon Nesa's name was mentioned in the 1951 National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Now, a lawyer by the name of Aman Wadud has shared some documents of Azmal Haque's family on Twitter to prove his Indian roots. According to one of the documents, Azmal Haque was born in Kamrup district in 1968. Now retired from the Indian Army, he lives at Kalahikash, Guwahati.
Azmal joined the Indian Army in 1986 as a mechanical engineer. Another document shows that the former President Kalam appointed him as a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) in the rank of Naib Subedar in 2003 during Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. He retired last year as JCO.
Incidentally, his wife Mumtaz Begum too had to prove her citizenship in 2012 before one of the foreigners tribunal. After she presented the documents, the foreigners tribunal held her as Indian citizen.
The documents show Azmal Haque as her husband. Azmal Haque was posted at Chandigarh when his wife had been summoned by the foreigners tribunal.
Interestingly, in May this year, Azmal Haque had applied for a franchise of customer point of bank. The Assam police officials visited him and verified his credentials.
One of his sons is studying at the Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC), Dehradun. The RIMC is a feeder institution for the National Defence Academy, Indian Naval Academy and subsequently the Indian Armed Forces.
Azmal Haque claims to be a Khilonjia Axomiya - an identity for those who trace their origins in Assam. On the other hand, as per the Supreme Court directive, the Assam government is required to update its National Register of Citizens by the end of this year.