This Independence Day, Mohammad Sayyed (52) hopes he would be a free man.
Sayyed, a Pakistani national, has been languishing in a cramped room on the outskirts of the city for the past one year. A convicted spy, Sayyed was released from the Tihar jail a year ago but instead of being sent home he was dumped at a detention centre in the Lampur area of northwest Delhi run by the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO).
Sayyed was arrested in 2001 from the Bhajanpura area of northeast Delhi when he had come to visit his maternal uncle.
“I have a 19-year-old daughter who is of marriageable age. I used to make showpieces for sustenance, now my wife looks after the business. I was staying at my maternal uncle's house in Bhajanpura when I was picked up in 2005. I later came to know that I had been arrested on charges of spying. I completed my jail sentence on September 8 last year. I have to get back home but no one listens to me,” said Sayyed, a resident of Lahore in Pakistan and a father of three.
Tired of diplomatic tangles, Sayyed approached the Delhi High Court, which asked the authorities for his immediate release.
“Even after the court’s order, I am not being released. The other foreign inmates get preferential treatment and are released on priority basis,” said Sayyed.
He has approached various human rights bodies but to no avail. “The Pakistani authorities verified my name and address at my native place and have sent back the report. I do not know what is the problem here,” he said.
He claimed that this place was worse than the prison and despite no charges against him he has been put under “house arrest”. “I admit it is a foreign country but I have completed my sentence and have no criminal charges against me. Even my passport is valid for the next two years. How can they detain me?” said Sayyed over phone from the detention centre. “We have sent the report to the authorities concerned including the Ministry Of Home Affairs,” said Vivek Kishore, deputy commissioner of police (Special Branch) which looks after the deportation procedure of the Pakistanis.
In January this year, three alleged Pakistani agents lodged at the centre had fled when they were taken to Guru Nanak Eye Centre in central Delhi for a check up. The other Pakistanis at the centre had alleged that the trio probably took the extreme step when they saw people dumped there for more than four years despite completing their jail sentence.