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Free after 21 yrs, but home a long way off

Eid-ul-Azha this year was special for Jordanian Naser Johar Asaid Johar (44), reports Vignesh Iyer.

mumbai Updated: Nov 30, 2009 00:47 IST
Vignesh Iyer

Eid-ul-Azha this year was special for Jordanian Naser Johar Asaid Johar (44).

In August, he was released from jail after 21 years of incarceration, but he still can’t meet his family for occasions like this. “For me, the real Eid will be the day I can meet my parents,” says Johar, whose embassy has not cleared his return to Jordan.

Johar, who practically lives at the Crime Branch’s Andheri office, was arrested in 1988, for opening fire inside the then Sahar International airport. He was booked under the tough Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and sentenced to 23 years rigorous imprisonment.

Was he associated with the underworld?

“Jane do na (let’s leave that alone), it is an incident I want to forget,” says Johar in fluent Hindi, which he picked up in those 21 years.

Johar, who has neither his Jordanian passport nor his army card, which he says is lost, now has only a photocopy of the passport to take him back home. He was in the Jordanian military before he arrived in India.

“The police have contacted my embassy many times but the embassy has not replied,” says Johar, adding: “My mother still believes I’ll be back home some day. My father works in the West Bank in Palestine.”

He is in regular touch with his family. “The police here are very good. They allow me to talk to my family, I don’t have any problem here,” he says.

He may be out of jail, but his movement is restricted to the Crime Branch Andheri office building. This is because of a Special Branch restriction order that reads: “There is every likelihood he may go underground and / or indulge in undesirable / anti-social activities detrimental to national security. He shall not move out of the jurisdiction of CID unit 8 till deportation process is over.”

Johar’s family sends him money for his survival in Mumbai – and the man helping him get that money is Briton Duncan Grant, who was acquitted of paedophilia charges in July 2008. “I don’t have a passport so I can’t get money and Duncan is helping me,” Johar admits. The two met while serving out their respective sentences in Nagpur prison.

This week, Johar will go to the Jordanian embassy in Delhi to plead his case.

Nagpur-based lawyer Smita Sarode-Singalkar, who met Johar in Nagpur prison, and wrote extensively to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR), said: “We’ve not got any reply from them.”