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Aizawl FC footballer Masih Saighani stopped at Imphal airport due to missing permit

Aizawl FC and Afghanistan national football team defender Masih Saighani was left stranded in Imphal on Wednesday after arriving in the city without a special permit required for Afghan nationals

football Updated: Feb 07, 2018 19:57 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Aizawl FC,Masih Saighani,I-League
Masih Saighani was stopped at the Imphal Airport as he was not carrying a Protected Area Permit (PAP).(AIFF)

Masih Saighani, who plays for the Afghanistan national football and Aizawl FC in the I-League, was left stranded in Imphal on Wednesday after he arrived in the city without a Protected Area Permit (PAP) required by Afghan nationals to enter Manipur.

Saighani was part of the Aizawl FC squad which was travelling to Imphal for their I-League game this weekend against NEROCA FC, when he was stopped at the airport upon arrival.

Unaware of the rules, which require foreign nationals from China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or with origins in these countries to carry the PAP permit before entering the state, Saighani was in for a rude shock when officials at the airport asked him to take a flight back from the city.

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“When I arrived here, the first thing they told me was to take the last flight back, which was to leave in five minutes. Or that I would have to spend the night at the police station,” the defender said.

Aizawl FC officials accompanying the team sought help from their counterparts at NEROCA FC, who contacted local authorities for a solution.

Due to the absence of evening flights, Saighani was subsequently stuck in the airport before local authorities allowed him to stay in Imphal for a night. The defender, however, will have to leave the city on Thursday morning.

The reason for the confusion on the rules was an earlier relaxation on requirement of the Protected Area Permit, said Aizawl FC owner Robert Royte. However, the relaxation was not applicable to Afghan nationals travelling to Manipur.

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“These rules have been applicable to Mizoram as well. When the rules were relaxed here, we thought the same would hold true for Manipur. I don’t blame anyone for what has happened,” Royte said.

NEROCA FC owner Naoba Singh said that the club asked for help from local authorities, pending which he was allowed to stay back for the night.

“Since he is travelling for a match with the team, it isn’t as big a problem as it would have been had he been visiting alone,” said Naoba.

The Protected Area Permit is required to be approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the case of Afghan nationals, and with less than three days left for Aizawl’s match against NEROCA, Saighani’s participation in the game remains uncertain.

First Published: Feb 07, 2018 19:57 IST