The Indian government has reopened the file on a Pakistani boy stranded in India for two years, raising hopes of 15-year-old Mohammad Ramzan’s reunion with his mother in Karachi, a PMO official said on Monday.
The development came on a day the speech and hearing impaired Geeta returned to India almost 15 years after straying into Pakistan.
Unlike Geeta , Ramzan had landed in India on his own two years ago after escaping from his allegedly abusive step-mother and father in Bangladesh. His father had allegedly moved to Bangladesh from Pakistan and re-married a couple of years ago.
Caught without valid papers, Ramzan is living at a shelter Umeed in Bhopal since then.
Recently, Pakistani activist Ansar Burney, who has facilitated Geeta’s return to India, started a campaign for Ramzan with his mother.
“I have sent a letter to the President of India with all the documents related to Ramzan. I am hoping that this time we will get success,” Ashutosh Shukla, consultant to the Prime Minister Office (PMO).
Shukla also said PMO had sent a letter to the ministry of external affairs (MEA) to reopen Ramzan’s file and MEA had agreed to do it.
Burney also said that he has sent copy of passports of Ramzan’s grandparents to the Indian authorities.
“We are trying to get an identification card of Ramzan’s mother Begum Razia too because it is essential for the process,” he told HT.
Archana Sahay, the director of Childline, however, was sceptical of the state government’s alleged lack of interest in helping Ramzan.
“I am happy that the MEA has reopened the file but earlier the external affairs ministry had turned down his application due to delay in completing verification process and I don’t want this incident (to) happen again.”
She said that the process could be expedited only when the state government took up the issue and “completes all the formalities on time”.
In the past two years, the child welfare committee (CWC), the authority for repatriation, could write letters only to the Pakistan embassy.
The state women and child development (WCD) minister Maya Singh, however, gave a different story on Ramzan.
“Ramzan was born in Bangladesh and his mother moved to Pakistan leaving him behind. Ramzan is not a citizen of Pakistan so we failed to send him to the country. When we tried to send him to Bangladesh, his father refused to accept him,” she told HT.
Police too have failed to verify the details of Ramzan’s citizenship.
When contacted, chief secretary Anthony de Sa refused to comment saying he was busy with other issues.
Child right activist Prashant Dubey alleged that the women and child development department and other government authorities are defying the Juvenile Justice Act by delaying Ramzan’s case.