GUWAHATI: Eid was celebrated a little late at the residence of Mohammad Sana Ullah in Guwahati--with tears but this time of joy. The retired Army soldier returned home after spending ten days at a detention centre at Goalpara for illegal citizens as he was so proscribed by a Foreigners Tribunal last month.

“I’m really happy to be back among my family,” Sana Ullah said with a smile.

He reached his residence at Satgaon in Guwahati in the afternoon. Tears rolled down the cheeks of wife Samina Begum and elder daughter Shahnaz Akhtar. “This was the day we were praying for. We were very upset and worried. But we are relieved now,” Samina Begum said.

The family did not join Eid celebrations on June 5, with the uncertainty of despair hanging over their heads.

“We were not in a mood to do anything because our Papa was not with us. We were so hurt as to how a person who has served the country in the Army for 30 years could be declared illegal. This is just something we could now digest. Now, we are absolutely delighted and happy. Our Eid celebrations are now,”Sana Ullah’s younger daughter Halmeen Akhtar said, barely able to contain her joy.

Sana Ullah was sent to the Goalpara jail doubling up as a detention centre following an order of the FT which said that he had miserably failed, under Section 9 of Foreigners Act 1946, to establish his linkage to his parentage of Indian soil prior to March 25 of 1971.And also failed to establish the fact that he is an Indian citizen by birth.

Following this, the Sana Ullah family challenged the order at the Gauhati High Court that granted conditional interim bail to Sana Ullah on June 7.

The bench ordered that Sana Ullah be released after furnishing a bail bond of Rs 20,000 with two local sureties. The court directed him not to move out of Kamrup district without prior approval of the Superintendent of Police. Further, the court also asked the authorities to obtain the biometrics of Sana Ullah.

“I’m thankful to the honourable Gauhati High Court for the order. Thankfully, I’m out of the detention centre. I have full faith in the system and will follow whatever the court says,” said the 52-year old Sana Ullah.

In his affidavit, Sanaullah, a resident of Kalahikash village in Kamrup district of Assam, said he had joined the Army in 1987 and had also served in Doda and Kupwara in trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir. He also received certificate of appreciation from the President in 2014 before retiring in 2017 as an honorary captain.

“Obviously, it’s painful not to be with my family during Eid. I had to make myself understand and accept the reality. Now, I’m feeling great to be back with my family. I hope that I will get justice,” the soft spoken Sana Ullah said.

It was an exciting moment for the people who are involved in the legal battle.

“Once again, it’s great to see judges respecting the right to life and liberty. Courts to the rescue of Army veteran who served India for thirty years and was then declared a ‘foreigner’, at moments like this proud to be a lawyer, proud of our courts. No citizen of India should be harassed or illegally detained,” said senior lawyer and human rights activist Indira Jaising who fought the case on Sana Ullah’s behalf.