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Five deaths and three years later, no respite

What happened to Rana Shaukat Ali is anyway a parent's worse nightmare, reports Neelam Pandey.

delhi Updated: Nov 24, 2009 23:44 IST
Neelam Pandey

What happened to Rana Shaukat Ali is anyway a parent's worse nightmare.

In February 2007, a bomb blast ripped through the Samjhauta Express and snuffed in one go the lives of five of his six children.

And now the 50-year-old Pakistani national is being made to shuffle endlessly through the labyrinth of Indian bureaucracy for the original Rs 20 lakh compensation awarded to him by the Railway Claims Tribunal.

It is a scene straight out of a Kafkan nightmare.

Being a foreign national, Rana cannot open a bank account in India, where the money may be transferred. To access the money in any other way needs more time in India, and Ali’s visa, mandatory for his stay in the country, expires on November 26.

“I went to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigner's Division to get my visa extended but they have now asked for a verification report from the police. I have been told that most likely the visa will not be extended," said Ali, who has been roaming around Delhi with a dossier of papers in hand.

Shaukat's family visits India once a year for their children's death anniversary. This year, he arrived on October 27 and was to leave by 26 November, along with wife Rukhsana and daughter Aksha Saizadi, their only surviving child. They had come to collect the Railway compensation amount — ten cheques of Rs. 2,27,296 each (Because of the 9 per cent interest accumulated.)

“I am being forced to file applications from one office to another," said the frail 50-year-old father. " I don't even know the city well. How am I supposed to make my way from one place to another? "

The Northern Railway, on the other hand, claim Ali will have to file another application requesting them to make the payment in foreign currency.

“As he is not an Indian national he was unable to encash the cheque,” said Anant Swarup, Chief Public Relations Officer, Northern Railways. “Ali will now have to give an application requesting that payment be made in foreign currency. Once we receive it, matter will be resolved."

“I was assured by the minister of state for railways, K H Muniyappa that all the money will be given to us by November 12. Two weeks have passed by but I am still to get it,” said Ali.

“I have lost five children already and don't have energy to run from pillar to post to get this amount.”