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'Stand to protect India, but seen as doubtful citizen': Army soldier who served at Siachen fighting to prove citizenship in Assam

An Indian Army soldier named Shahidul Islam, hailing from Assam's Barpeta district and currently posted in Kolkata, is fighting to prove his Indian citizenship in Assam to be included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC). He is now contesting a case at the Foreigners' Tribunal Number 11 of Barpeta district to prove that he is an Indian citizen.

 Stand to protect India, but seen as doubtful citizen: Army soldier who served at Siachen fighting to prove citizenship in Assam

Representational image. Reuters

The 43-year-old told The Indian Express that he served in Baramulla in North Kashmir and at the Siachen Glacier before being posted in Kolkata in October 2018. "I have been posted in Kashmir, Kargil, and Siachen. I love my country and stand to protect it. But back home in Assam, I am seen as a doubtful citizen," he said.

The newspaper quoted Islam as saying that he received the first notice to appear at the Foreigners' Tribunal in October 2018. Sources in border police confirmed to The Indian Express that the reference case against Shahidul Islam and his family members was made in 2003

Shahidul, his mother and his brother were to appear in court on 9 November. His brothers — 27-year-old CISF trooper Mizanur Ali and 29-year-old Delbor Ali, with Army Medical Corps since 2010 — are also mentioned with their father Abdul Hamid as minors in the 2003 reference case. Their father died in August 2005.

The next hearing in his case has been scheduled for 18 March, but the army subedar says there is a chance he may not be able to make it as he may "be on the move".

The government began to update the Assam NRC in 2018 in a bid to weed out illegal immigrants. At least 40 lakh people were left out of the final draft, after which they began to file their claims to citizenship in September.

The news also comes amid a row over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which seeks to grant nationality to non-Muslims who fled religious persecution from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before 31 December, 2014. The Lok Sabha passed the controversial bill on 8 January.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 24, 2019 11:26:43 IST