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Home Ministry regrets sending back Burney

The ministry argues the ex-Pak minister had been denied entry and not deported by the immigration official.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 31, 2008 10:39 PM IST

An embarrassed Home Ministry on Saturday expressed regrets for sending back former Pakistan Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney upon his arrival at Delhi Airport on Friday night and said he was always welcome to visit India.

In a clarification that did not throw any light on the treatment meted out to Burney, who played a key role in getting Indian prisoner Kashmir Singh released from Pakistani jail, the Ministry said the "inconvenience" to him was "unfortunate and regrettable".

In the two-page clarification, the ministry took recourse to technicalities by arguing that Burney had been denied entry and not deported by the immigration official "on account of inadequate documentation".

This flies in the face of Burney's comments from London that he was asked to sign deportation papers and "hurriedly packed" into the Emirate Airlines flight which took him back to Dubai.

'Explain it'

Seemingly intrigued by the deportation of the Pakistani human rights activist, the Ministry of External Affairs has sought details about the action from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The MEA has asked the MHA to state why Burney, who has been fighting for the cause of Indian prisoners in Pakistan, was deported, sources said.

MEA sources insist that the ministry was not aware of the developments till media reported it after the deportation.

Burney, who came to New Delhi on Friday night to attend a conference on terrorism, was immediately sent back from the Indira Gandhi International Airport to Dubai from where he had arrived.

Orders from 'higher ups'

Meanwhile, Burney said on Saturday the immigration officials cited "orders from higher ups" for not allowing him into the country.

"I had informed the Indian Commission in Pakistan about my visit to Delhi and also my flight number a week back," Burney said.

"I was asked to sign on my deportation papers and hurriedly packed into the Emirates Airlines which was also delayed because of me," Burney said.

Refuting reports which suggested that he may not have valid visa to travel to India, Burney said, "I had come on a valid SAARC visa issued to prominent citizens".

Burney said his purpose to come to India was to attend a conference on terrorism, meet some political leaders on the ongoing Indo-Pak peace process, talk about alleged custodial deaths of four Pakistani prisoners lodged in Indian jails and go to Jaipur for offering prayers for all those who were killed in the recent terror attacks. "My purpose was only peace and nothing else," he said.

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