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MEA wants to know why Burney was deported

Seemingly intrigued by the deportation of Pak human rights activist Ansar Burney on Friday night, the MEA seeks explanation from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 31, 2008 03:45 PM IST

Seemingly intrigued by the deportation of Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney on Friday night, 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.

MHA sources said the former Human Rights Minister of Pakistan was sent back because of a "look-out notice" against him.

Interestingly, Burney had visited India last month only and met Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon.

MEA sources said the deportation could have been carried out because of some "mistake".

Burney was instrumental in securing the release of Indian prisoner Kashmir Singh a few months back and is currently pleading for clemency to Sarabjit Singh, who is facing death sentence in connection with a bomb blast case.

During his visit to India last month, he had met the family of Sarabjit Singh in Amritsar.

"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.

Burney has been in the media spotlight for playing a key role in the release of Indian death row prisoner Kashmir Singh and has been campaigning for clemency for another condemned prisoner Sarabjit Singh.

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.

Recounting his last night's ordeal, Burney said, "as I landed at the Delhi airport in Flight EK 514, I approached the immigration counter where the officer was very happy to see me.

"However, as soon as he put my passport through the scanner machine, his smile vanished and he asked me to sit in one of the officers' room. I tried to inquire about the delay but was assigned no reason till two immigration officials accompanied by Emirate Airlines staff came and informed me that there were orders from higher ups of not to allow me into the country," he said.

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