Sanaullah’s wife Samina Begum met senior Army officers at the Narengi cantonment in Guwahati on Thursday

GUWAHATI: The Army said it cannot meddle in the case of honourary lieutenant (retired) Md. Sanaullah, who was recently declared a “foreigner” by the Foreigners’ Tribunal in Assam and sent to a detention centre for illegal immigrants.

Sanaullah’s wife Samina Begum met senior Army officers at the Narengi cantonment in Guwahati on Thursday. The meeting triggered speculations the Army is helping the family in the case.

However, defence spokesman Lt. Col P Khongsai told Express that the case is not being taken up by the Army as it is purely a legal matter.

“As she lives in a locality close to our establishment, she was called and we shared her grief. We have a tribunal and it would have certainly helped him (Sanaullah) if he had an issue related to pension or post-retirement benefits,” the spokesman said. 

He said if any help could be given to Sanaullah from the “defence side during the course of future proceedings, it would be extended”. He clarified that Sanaullah is a retired honorary captain and not a retired honorary lieutenant.

In a tweet two days ago, Brig V Mahalingam (Retd) had said the Army should investigate the case and save Sanaullah from harassment.

Samina appealed to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a prayer for early release of her husband from detention. 

Meanwhile, the All Assam Minority Students’ Union has demanded Sanaullah’s unconditional release. It burnt the effigies of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who also holds the Home portfolio, in various parts of the state on Friday as “many genuine Indian citizens, belonging to religious and linguistic minority communities, were unjustly being declared foreigners and confined to the detention centres”.

Sanaullah was summoned by the Border Police in Guwahati on Tuesday. When he showed up, he was immediately arrested and taken to the detention centre for illegal immigrants in Goalpara.

Ironically, post-retirement, he was serving as an assistant sub-inspector in the Border Police which is tasked to identify doubtful citizens as well as illegal immigrants. The cases of such individuals are heard and disposed of by the various Foreigners’ Tribunals.