Let us travel the world, plead Dawood's kin

Feb 09, 2012, 09:08 IST | Samarth Moray

Remarks on passports of Iqbal Kaskar's wife and children restrict their movement to UAE and India, which is hampering them academically

Remarks on passports of Iqbal Kaskar's wife and children restrict their movement to UAE and India, which is hampering them academically

In a bid to get an identity unencumbered by the notoriety attendant on her family name, the sister-in-law of India's most wanted criminal Dawood Ibrahim had to approach the courts.

Carrying the family name: The remarks were added to the passports
of Iqbal Kaskar's wife and four children after he was embroiled in the
controversy surrounding the construction of Sara Sahara shopping centre
in South
Mumbai. File Pic 

She wanted to negotiate her and her children's right to something as universal as travelling abroad, for a purpose as ideal as higher education. But restricting remarks on their passports do not allow for that.
So it was a triumph for her and her four children, when last Tuesday, the High Court ordered the Ministry of External Affairs to hear within a month their petition to have the remarks deleted.

Rizwana Hasan (44), wife of Dawood Ibrahim's brother Iqbal Kaskar, had prayed for the removal of the remarks that were made after Kaskar was embroiled in the Sara Sahara shopping centre controversy.

Though he was acquitted, the punishing remarks on his family members' passports prohibit them from travelling anywhere but between the UAE and India, even though they themselves have no criminal record.

Living on a leash
Rizwana (44), sons Mohammed Rizwan (22) and Mohammed Aban (12), and daughters Kaniz Fatima (22) and Aiman Hasan (14) all stay in the UAE, where the children attend an international school.

According to the petition, the remark on the passports of all five persons grants them a year's validity and restricts their travel outside India and the UAE. Due to this, the children are unable to go abroad for higher studies. They also face a lot of bother, especially when it comes to scholastic activities that they have to sit out of because of the legal constraints.

Apparently keen on aeronautics, they missed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in a NASA space camp in April last year.

But the court order offers them a glimmer of hope. A bench comprising Justices VM Kanade and PD Kode said, "Direct the Ministry of External Affairs to hear [the petitioners] within four weeks � the authorities may give [the family] a personal hearing."

Guilty by extension?
As per the petition, since March 2010, the family has been making repeated representations to the Chief Passport Officer and the Ministry of External Affairs. They haven't received any written explanation as to why the remark has not been deleted, they claim. Instead, they have been orally informed that their requests will not be entertained solely because of their relation to Dawood Ibrahim. Appearing on behalf of the petitioners, Advocate Rizwan Merchant said, "The remark was made after [Kaskar's] involvement in the Sara Sahara case. The petitioner's husband was acquitted, not because he was given the benefit of the doubt, but on merits, since the prosecution failed to prove its case. Neither the petitioner nor the children have any criminal records."

In 2003, Kaskar was deported from Dubai to the city to face trial in the Sara Sahara case, which concerned the illegal construction of two shopping complexes on government land near Crawford Market by the underworld. Though Kaskar was acquitted by a special MCOCA court, an appeal is currently pending in the Bombay High Court.

The petition cites the case of Chhota Rajan's brother Deepak Nikhalje, whose passport bore a similar remark.

However, Nikhalje was able to have it deleted, and Rizwana now wants to avail of the same relief.

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