Bring back my husband, or send us to Pakistan, pleads deported Pakistani Siraj Khan's wife
The family of Siraj Khan, who has spent a majority of his life in Mumbai, devastated by his sudden deportation to Pakistan
Sajida Khan (right) with daughter Zara at their Antop Hill home. Siraj Khan's family has been inconsolable ever since they heard about his deportation on Monday
"If Adnan Sami can get Indian citizenship, why can't my husband?" asks Sajida Khan, wife of Siraj Murad Khan, the Pakistani national who was deported to the country of his origin on Monday. Fighting back tears, she adds, "He was only born in Pakistan, but he has grown up and worked in India, treating this as his motherland. Why can't the authorities take up his case on humanitarian grounds?" Sajida and Siraj have three children — daughter Zara and two sons, Inayat and Ejaz.
Sajida and her three young children have been inconsolable for the last three days, ever since they got to know authorities have dropped Siraj across the border, back to the childhood home he fled from when he was all of 10.
Sajida (right, in burqa) with daughter Zara and sons Inayat and Ejaz
Tough to return
His daughter Zara, 12, cannot stop crying. She says, "I want my father back. He had promised to gift me a new dress and take me to Essel World this Eid." There is no telling if Siraj will ever be brought back to the Antop Hill home he shares with his family. Zara knows it is going to be tough for her father to return. Siraj, 37, was born in Sharkool village in Manshera, Pakistan. He fled from home at the age of 10 and accidentally landed in Amritsar. From there, he travelled to Gujarat, where he was kept in a children's home. Later, he landed up in Mumbai and decided to settle down here after he met Sajida.
Zara got a chance to speak to her father on Wednesday. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
"I had known Siraj for a couple of years then. He is a very shy and honest person. So, I decided to ask him to marry my sister-in-law. He'd told me about how he left Pakistan, but since he had been living here for a long time, I thought he wouldn't have to go back," said Mehrunissa Kazi, a relative.
But that was not to be. Asked about how Siraj came under the cops' radar, a teary-eyed Sajida says, "In 2008, Zara was two years old and due to various reasons, my husband was not getting work. He was very frustrated. Then, the 26/11 attacks happened and people in our locality who knew he was born in Pakistan started raising suspicion on him. He was devastated; he'd grown up in the same locality but was now being seen with doubtful eyes."
"Therefore, one day, he went to the cops and told them his story, As soon as the cops got to know he was born in Pakistan, they began probing him, which then resulted in his deportation," says Sajida. Siraj was first put behind bars in 2009 and after being released, was arrested again after a court convicted him under the Foreigners Act, 1946. The Bombay High Court had held that his deportation was inevitable since he was convicted under the Act. Sajida has filed a petition seeking a stay on his deportation, which will come up for hearing on March 20.
But before that, on Saturday, officers from the RAK Marg police station took Siraj back to Pakistan. "Since the day he was deported, the kids aren't eating. They want their father back," says Sajida. After Siraj's deportation, all Sajida and her kids are left with is debt and unending questions about their future. "I have a debt of more than R30,000 over my head, my kids are studying in school, how will I feed them now ?" she says, adding, "I want the government to do something for us. Either bring back my husband or let us go to Pakistan to stay with him, because we cannot live without him."
Phone call from Pak
While the situation may otherwise be bleak for the family right now, they got some relief on Wednesday, when Siraj called from Pakistan through an unknown number around 1.30 pm. "Father asked me if I'd had lunch and studied. He began crying while he was talking to me. All he wants is either to come back here or take us with him. I just want to be with my father," says a sobbing Zara. In Pakistan, Siraj was reunited with his family after 27 years. He got to know his father had passed away one and a half years ago, after years of waiting to embrace his son, who'd run away from home because he thought he would be beat up for failing an exam. "He was happy to meet his family, but at the same time, he was missing us. Only Allah knows when we will reunited," says Sajida.
10 - Age at which Siraj Khan ran away from his home in Pakistan