India is awaiting Pakistan’s response to the issue of verifying the nationality of a runaway teenager from Karachi who is now living in a shelter in Bhopal.
“We have told the Pakistan high commission’s officials to verify the nationality of Mohammad Ramzan,” said an official.
External affairs minister Susham Swaraj recently tweeted that India would repatriate 15-year-old Ramzan if Pakistan is ready to accept him.
New Delhi has also said it will issue a visa to Ramzan’s mother is she wishes to travel to India from Pakistan but she has reportedly declined the offer. India’s envoy to Pakistan had visited Ramzan’s mother Razia Begum last week.
Ramzan says he was separated from his mother when his father Mohammad Kazol took him to Bangladesh and remarried. Harassed by his stepmother and neglected by his father, Ramzan left his home and crossed over to India about two-and-a-half years ago after his friends advised him to travel to Pakistan via India.
He is stuck in Bhopal because he has no proof of his Pakistani citizenship – a prerequisite for sending him back to his mother.
The recent return from Pakistan of Geeta, a hearing and speech impaired woman, has focussed renewed attention on Ramzan. Geeta lived in Pakistan for almost 15 years after she strayed across the border.
Pakistani rights activist Ansar Burney, who is representing Razia Begum, told the media she had refused to take up the offer to travel to India because she thinks “the environment in India is against Pakistanis and Muslims”.
India had said it would facilitate her travel to Bhopal to meet and identify her son.
“She feels the environment is not right for her at this time to go to India,” Burney said. “Razia said she would gladly bear the pain of missing her son but wait until India tries to first improve relations with Pakistan.”
Razia has not seen her son since he was eight years old, when he was taken away to Bangladesh by his father in 2008. She has two children – Ramzan and a daughter – and her husband divorced her in 2004.
(With inputs from agencies)