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Mohammad Salim Ashraf - Indian or Pakistani?

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    Mohammad Salim Ashraf - Indian or Pakistani?

    Mohammad Salim Ashraf
    Stuck in Pak, can't stay, can't come home

    LAHORE, MAY 3: The story of Roop Lal's reunion with his family after 26 years has raised his hopes once again. He is Mohammad Salim Ashraf, a 25-year-old from Kottayam in Kerala. But his story is different from that of Roop Lal, and much more painful.

    He has been reduced to the status of an alien in two countries as neither Pakistan nor India accepts him as one of their own. Salim Ashraf was an eight-year-old child when he was brought from Amritsar to Lahore by a gang of traffickers in 1982. The sulking child had left his home in a Kerala village after being scolded by his father.

    Ashraf was fortunate enough to meet a kind man who admitted him to a social welfare institute from where he passed his Class X and then XII. In 1988, he obtained Pakistani national identity card and started working in a factory.Now, more mature, Ashraf wrote to his mother in Athirazhathuchira, WardIII, Vaikom, in Kottayam, Kerala.

    His desperate mother replied and told him about the plight of the family. His father was dead, having tried to look for him all over the country. She asked him to come back and shoulder his responsibilities. Since then Ashraf has been fighting to go back home.

    Now for the past five years, he is being helped by Brig (retd) Rao Abid Hamid of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). It was due to Rao Abid's efforts that Roop Lal managed to come back home. In August 1994, Ashraf was briefly reunited with his family when he managed to obtain a passport and an Indian visa after a prolonged struggle and detailed inquiries by Indian High Commission.

    ``His joy was short-lived as the local police were snapping at his heels all the time and reminded him that his visa was only for a month after which he should go back to Pakistan,'' says Rao Abid, who is the coordinator of Vulnerable Prisoners Project for HRCP. Ashraf's distraught mother appealed to the High Court of Kerala that he was a citizen of India, illegally taken to Pakistan and that he should be allowed to stay on in India. The court ordered that if Ashraf's Pakistani passport and identity card were cancelled by the government of Pakistan, he would be permitted to return to India.

    On November 29, 1994, Ashraf was deported to Pakistan where he was arrested for questionning but released after a few days. The Ministry of Interior in Pakistan ordered that his passport be cancelled and he be ``pushed back'' to India. On the Indian Republic Day on January 26, 1995, Ashraf was taken to Wagah and ``pushed back'' into Attari by Pakistani authorities. But the Indian immigration authorities refused to accept him and forced him back to Pakistan.

    ``Ashraf was lucky that he was not killed by the armies on either side while being pushed back. He, like most prisoners to be released, was just left in the fields by both sides,'' says Rao Abid, explaining the plight of Ashraf and others.

    On his return to Pakistan, Ashraf was again arrested and later released onbail. He again appealed to the Indian High Commission to allow him to go home. The Indian High Commission asked him to submit a passport cancellationcertificate issued by the Pakistani passport authorities. Accordingly, herequested the Director General, Passport Office to issue this certificate.

    But they in turn asked him to get a letter from Indian High Commission requesting for the same. Pushed by his determination and will to return home, Ashraf again went to the Indian High Commission, got the letter and submitted it to Pakistani authorities. In the meantime, the Indian High Commission informed him that they had forwarded his case to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

    Since 1995, Ashraf has been waiting for a favourable response from thegovernment of India. Meanwhile, on February 23, 1998, Regional Passport Office, Lahore, issued him a passport cancellation certificate (vide memorandum 13/1/9 Estt) which he promptly submitted to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

    ``He has been running from pillar to post and so has been his mother in Kerala but the authorities continue to be apathetic,'' says Rao Abid. Even the chairperson of NRCP, Asma Jahangir, has been writing to Indian High Commission which has reportedly said that Ashraf's request is being looked into. Letters have also been written to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the MHA.


    #2
    meanwhile his father is still sick and his family is still not doing well.

    What a shameless display of one-upmanship by Bureaucrats of both places.

    Maybe the guy and his family can immigrate to US. After all with the Elian Gonzalez case hoopla this should get more attention

    yeah right

    The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.

    Comment


      #3
      mohabbat,
      This is a very clear example of India's paranoia about it's muslim citizens,where they would be willing to put families through endless hardship and ignore orders from high court of their own country just to satisfy this paranoia about muslims,everyone of whom is suspected of bieng ISI agent!!
      Now look at this case of Salim Ashraf.It's clear he didn't face any trouble in pakistan but only in India.
      In pakistan he applied for ID card and passport and got one easily.
      In pakistan he applied for cancellation of passport and ID card and got that too.
      In pakistan he asked for cancellation certificate and got that too.And this last step is the only one where he had to go through some procedures and wait awhile before that was granted but no harassment and no feetdragging.
      In India he applied for visa.....
      Uphill task and struggle just to get a 1 month visa!
      In India he was constantly harassed by police which kept on his toes.
      In India the courts allowed him entry once he got rid of green passport but Indian immigration in violation of that order refused him entry and prolonged the man's struggle and also his family's troubles.This could have ended then and there but for Indian Immigration!!
      Also when he again pleaded with Indian highCom he was once again sent on search for more documents and he got those(in pakistan)but the the Indian side still refuses him entry and 'refers' his case to the home ministry for more dealys(probably infinite)even after the guy has a court order in favour of him and all the documents that were demanded from him!!!
      He is not refused by pakistan but only by India,and so even after he has given up his pak citizenship and proved himself to be Indian citizen.
      So mohabbat I think we will keep seeing such cases until your country grows up and gives up it's paranoia about it's muslim citizens and accepts and treats them as humans.

      Comment


        #4
        Ahmed...
        "This is a very clear example of India's paranoia about it's muslim citizens"

        Muslim citizens !!!!!! That guy has a Pakistani passport and you call him an Indian Muslim citizen !!????

        I can sympathise with that guy but I don't see how he can be classified as an Indian citizen. Specially with so much distrust between our countries this is only natural.....and you found only India to blame !! We all know how much time it takes to process Indian and Pakistani visas even for serious cases.....and here you're saying that we are biased against our Muslim citizens !!! You guys give a hard time to those poor stranded "Bihari" Muslims.....and you call us anti-Muslim !!!

        Comment

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