Human Rights

Dubbed a “Pakistani,” Indian spends 10 years in jail


Chandigarh: A man from Bihar, who was branded a Pakistani intruder by the Punjab Police and jailed for eight years, will finally unite with his family. The Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Justice M. S. Gill, who was in Amritsar on 1 October, issued orders for the release of Wasil Khan based on a report compiled by the Amritsar deputy commissioner, K. S. Pannu. The order will reach the jail authorities facilitating his release.

Khan told his family that the police had detained him in 2000 when he was working as a cleaner on a truck. He was travelling in the truck transporting apples from Jammu and Kashmir to New Delhi when the police arrested him. Since he had a stammer and was a Muslim, the police perceived him to be a Pakistan national and took him into custody. However, they did not register a first information report of his arrest. They then deployed Khan on duty as a cook at the residence of a Punjab police officer for two years.

Later, he was shifted to Sirhind near Chandigarh. In March 2002, the police accused Khan of carrying out a bomb attack. The court found him guilty and he was sentenced to eight years in prison and was lodged in the Nabha jail. Later he was shifted to Amritsar. Although Khan continued to plead that he was not a Pakistani, no one paid heed to him and he had to serve out the sentence.

After completion of his imprisonment Khan was put in a transit camp from where he managed to send his family a letter detailing his ordeal with the help of a junior jail authority. Khan’s family then came to Amritsar to plead his case.

His sister Mohazra Khatoon, who hails from Nekerdehi village in East Champaran, Bihar, affirmed that Khan was indeed an Indian and that he had gone missing several years ago.

Khatoon, accompanied by her lawyer husband Shahid Raza Khan, met Khan at Amritsar prison’s transit camp a few days ago and handed several documents to Pannu. These documents were proof enough that Khan was an Indian. It also came to light that Khan had left home after an altercation with his family nearly a decade ago.

His family had given up all hopes to see him again as he could not be traced for many years. The letter came as a ray of hope, the family said. According to the police they had detained Khan because he could not explain his presence near the India- Pakistan Border in Gurdaspur district. (Vikas Kahol, Sept 10)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 October 2010 on page no. 11

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