Pakistan national Siraj Khan, who accidentally landed in India more than two decades ago and who set up a home in Mumbai with his Indian wife and three children, has been deported to Pakistan in a hush-hush operation. Two officers from RAK Marg Police Station in Sewri took Siraj, 32, to Amritsar on Sunday, and he was handed over to the Pakistani authorities at the Wagah border at 9.30 am on Monday, thereby ending Siraj and his family’s lengthy legal battle against his deportation.
His wife Sajida, a resident of Antop Hill, said Siraj was initially told by the police that he was being taken to Delhi. He was confined to the RAK Marg Police Station for the last three-and-a-half months after the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) issued an order in December restricting his movements within the police station compound. The FRRO order was the first step towards Siraj’s deportation.
Siraj and his family’s plight has been reported extensively, and appeals have been made to let Siraj stay in India on humanitarian grounds. Siraj, a waiter in Mumbai, was ten years old when he ran away from his home after failing his Class II exam. Wanting to travel to an uncle’s house in Karachi, he boarded the wrong train and landed in Amritsar. Over the years, he found his way to Mumbai, married Sajida, and had three children.
The family’s struggles began in 2009 when a CID team raided their shanty in Antop Hill and reported that Siraj had no document to support his claim that he was a resident of Mansehra District in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. He was convicted under the Foreigners Act 1946 and Passport (Entry into India) Rules and sentenced to seven months in prison.
The police’s subsequent attempt to deport Siraj was thwarted after the family moved the high court where his petition was disposed of. In October 2014, the police filed a fresh case against Siraj and an activist, Imran Khan who was helping Siraj, even as his application for Indian citizenship remained pending. Under Section 5(1)(c) of the Citizenship Act 1955, the Centre may register as a citizen somebody who is married to an Indian and who has ordinarily been residing in India for the last seven years.
From the time Siraj was confined to the RAK Marg Police Station, Sajida would visit him every afternoon for about half-an-hour. “Around 8.30 am on Saturday, I got a call from him. I realised he was crying even as he asked me to get to the police station with kids and a bag of clothes,” Sajida said.
Sajida said she and Siraj were under the impression that he had been summoned by the Foreign Ministry officials in Delhi. “He called me from the train on Saturday night, saying he had just found out he was being taken to Amritsar,” she said. The next she heard from Siraj was on Sunday night, when he called to say the policemen were searching for a hotel in the vicinity of the Wagah border.
“I spoke to Siraj again on Tuesday. He called to say he was taken to a police station in Lahore, from where he will be sent to his hometown,” Sajida said. Senior Inspector Bhagwat Bansod from RAK Marg Police Station told his newspaper on Saturday that Siraj was being taken to Delhi where he will be “produced before a ministry”. Bansod remained unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone IV) N Ambika had informed this newspaper on Saturday that the “procedure was on” in Siraj’s case. She did not specify whether Siraj was being deported, or whether there were directives to deport him on a particular date.
Ambika called up Mirror on Tuesday afternoon to say Siraj had indeed been deported to Pakistan via the Wagah border. She said Siraj’s wife had been duly informed of the action, and that the police had followed all procedures. “Action was taken on the basis of the orders from the State Home Ministry and the Union Ministry of External Affairs,” Ambika said.
When contacted for details in the case on Saturday, the state additional chief secretary (Home), Sudhir Shrivastava, asked the question be sent via an SMS. A detailed query sent to him did not yield response, and he remained unavailable for comment yesterday.
Meanwhile, Sajida’s lawyer yesterday mentioned a petition filed by her before a high court division bench of Justices RM Savant and SV Kotwal for urgent hearing. The court remarked that Siraj had been convicted, hence deportation would have been the next course of action. The court has kept the petition for hearing on March 20 . A tearful Sajida rued that the cops did not let her take a family photo with her husband at the Bandra Terminus. “They (the cops) said we’ll click the photo. Later when I checked the phone, there were no photos,” she said.