An assistant sub-inspector of the Border Security Force from Assam and his wife were declared foreigners by a tribunal, the soldier’s family said on Friday. The Jorhat Foreigners’ Tribunal declared the two to be foreigners in December last year but the family was reportedly informed about it only last month, they told PTI.

The soldier Muzibur Rahman is currently posted in Punjab. His father Bapdhan Ali said that everyone in the family had been included in the National Register of Citizens except Rahman and his wife. The final list of the register will be published on August 31.

“I request the government to take steps so that he continues to be an Indian,” Ali was quoted as saying to a local news channel in Merapani area of Assam’s Golaghat district. “We are Indians. The name of every member of my family is in the NRC but not of Muzibur who is working in the BSF in the service of the nation, and his wife.”

Rahman was declared a ‘D’ or doubtful voter in July 2018 but he was not aware of it, following which the tribunal declared him a foreigner in December, the family’s lawyer said. The soldier also did not receive any summon to appear for the hearing where he would be able to present his case.

The soldier’s family said their village head had told them on July 29 this year to appear at the Jorhat Circuit House. As Rahman was away on duty in Punjab, his father and brother-in-law had gone instead and learnt that the soldier and his wife were declared foreigners.

“Probably those engaged in the NRC updating exercise have not done their duty properly,” Rahman told a local news channel over the phone. “We want an error-free NRC and will always cooperate with the process. I urge the government to ensure that genuine Indian citizens are not harassed.” He also said that they were not “Pakistanis or Bangladeshis” and were born in Assam, adding that they had land records since 1923.

Sudipta Nayan Goswami, who was identified as Rahman’s lawyer, said that the court declared the soldier “a foreigner” as he had not appeared in court, according to Hindustan Times.

Three months ago, a former Army soldier was arrested and taken to a detention centre for illegal immigrants by Assam Border Police in Guwahati after he was declared a foreigner. The family of the retired honorary lieutenant of the Indian Army moved the Gauhati High Court after which bail was granted to him. He was released from the detention centre in June.

More than 40 lakh people were excluded from the final draft of the NRC published on July 30, 2018. 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.

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