Lashkar man Andhra ‘guest’
For the past four years, the state has been “hosting” Mohammed Saleem Junaid, an alleged Pakistani national and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operative, in a guesthouse in Vishakhapatnamindia Updated: Mar 28, 2010 00:59 IST
Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge, the Hindi comedy film on the plight of a family dealing with an unwanted guest, could well be the story of the Andhra Pradesh government.
For the past four years, the state has been “hosting” Mohammed Saleem Junaid, an alleged Pakistani national and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operative, in a guesthouse in Vishakhapatnam.
Reason: he has been acquitted by the courts, but Pakistan is dragging its feet on taking him back.
Junaid, who isn’t allowed to leave the guesthouse, has a cushy life. He is served breakfast, lunch and dinner, provided a newspaper and unlimited access to television.
He was arrested in 1998.
Junaid had reportedly arrived in Hyderabad in 1996 and set himself up as a transport operator. Within six months, he had acquired a voter ID card, a ration card and a wife.
After he was released from Cherlapally jail near Hyderabad in 2006, the government initiated moves to deport him back to his country. But as it was expected to take time, he was shifted to the guesthouse at the port city of Visakhapatnam.
“For the past four years, we have been writing to the external affairs ministry to expedite his deportation but nothing is happening. The Pakistan embassy has been maintaining that Junaid is not a Pakistani, hence, they cannot take him. And we can’t send him back to jail as there is no case against him,” said an official of the home department.
Junaid, on his part, does not want to go back to Pakistan. “As Pakistan is unwilling to take me back, I would like to settle down at Hyderabad,” he said.
His Hyderabadi wife Momina Khatoon and their two children await his release. They visit him at Visakhapatnam “but cannot afford frequent travels”.