The Congress on Thursday criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party over the implementation of the National Register of Citizens after a former Indian Army soldier was declared a “foreign national” and sent to a detention camp. The decision was, however, passed by a foreigners’ tribual that works independently of the processs of creating the register.

Congress claimed this showed the “high-handedness and flawed manner” of the implementation of the register of bonafide Indian citizens in Assam.

“Shocking!! BJP government has labelled the ‘foreigner’ tag to a Kargil war hero!” tweeted the party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala. “It is an insult to the sacrifice of our brave Armed Forces. This speaks volumes about the high-handedness and flawed manner in which the NRC exercise is being implemented in Assam.”

Congress leader Sushmita Dev called it a “grave injustice”. “This is a case that shows that the implementation process of NRC is flawed,” she tweeted. “While NRC feeds the anti-foreigner sentiment, it is causing grave injustice to citizens.”

The All India Mahila Congress also separately criticised the move. “Serve your nation for 30 years, fight in a war and take bullets only to be called a ‘foreigner’,” it added.

The process of creating this database of legal citizens in Assam was initiated during the rule of the Manmohan Singh government. BJP President Amit Shah sought to make the register a national election issue when he declared in Parliament that it was only his party that had shown the courage to implement it and curb undocumented immigration. He also promised to implement the register of ctizens across the entire country after coming back to power.

Fifty-two-year-old Mohammed Sanaullah, who retired as subedar with the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers of Indian Army in August 2017. He was arrested by the Assam Border Police in Guwahati on Tuesday and taken to a detention centre in Goalpara district. Sanaullah’s family has moved the Gauhati High Court. The border police are tasked with identifying doubtful citizens as well as undocumented immigrants. The cases of such individuals are heard and disposed of by the various foreigners’ tribunals.

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Assam Nation Register of Citizens Coordinator Prateek Hajela to be accurate and provide a fair hearing to objections raised by people whose names are missing from the list.

“There are disturbing reports in the media,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. “The media is not always wrong. Reports say how complaints are being dealt with. Hearing of objections has to be done in a proper manner.”

National Register of Citizens

According to the terms of the National Register of Citizens, anyone who cannot prove that they or their ancestors entered the state before midnight on March 24, 1971, will be declared a foreigner.

More than 40 lakh people were excluded from the final draft of the register published on July 30. Those who did not make it to the draft list were allowed to make one last claim for inclusion before the publication of the final consolidated list. Alongside this, authorities allowed objections to be filed against people included in the final draft. The exercise has been embroiled in several controversies, including allegations of bias against certain communities.