Pak HC seeks India's position on Burney's deportation

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New Delhi, Jun 1: The Pakistan High Commission here has sought a factual explanation on why former Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney was deported to Dubai from New Delhi's Indira Gandhi Airport on Friday night, though the Indian Government has apologized for the gaffe through a terse two paragraph statement. Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner Afrasiab said Saturday that the High Commission had taken up the matter with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

According to official sources, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta have discussed the issue, and are reportedly attempting to minimize the damage caused to bilateral ties by the incident. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide the reasons for Burney's deportation. The former said the ministry was not aware of the issue until it appeared in the media. Sources in the Home Ministry said Burney had been sent back because of a "look-out notice" against him.

New Delhi has already described the incident as regrettable and unfortunate, and added that Burney was welcome to visit India at any time.

Burney had arrived at the IGIA late on Friday from Dubai. He was denied entry by immigration officers on duty on "account of inadequate documentation" and sent back on the same flight. Burney had come to the Indian capital to attend a conference on terrorism.

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

An embarrassed Union Home Ministry has ordered an inquiry into the entire affair

Burney, who had gone back to London after being denied entry, said that Indian immigration officials cited "orders from high-ups" for not allowing him into the country. He said that New Delhi needed to come clean on the issue to ensure that bilateral ties which are presently in a state of thaw don't go into deep freeze again.

"I had informed the Indian Commission in Pakistan regarding my visit to Delhi and also my flight number a week ago," he said.

Narrating the ordeal, he said he landed at Delhi airport on Flight EK 514 and approached the immigration counter where the officer was "very happy" to see him.

"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 until two immigration officials accompanied by the Emirate Airlines staff came in and informed that there were orders from higher-ups not to allow me into the country," he said.

"In fact, when I spoke to Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Satyabrata Pal and told him that I have the SAARC visa, which is issued to prominent citizens, he told me there is no problem and that I can go anywhere," Burney added.

Citing possible reasons for his deportation, Burney said he had planned to take up the issue of the custodial deaths of four Pakistanis, including a woman, in Indian jails.

However, Burney said that despite such ordeal, he would continue working for the release of Indian and Pakistani prisoners.

"A wrong has been done to me, but I will not pass it on these unfortunate individuals," he said.


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