The 63-year man Mohammad Qamar has received his Eid gift of freedom and likely Indian citizenship from the Supreme Court of India that ordered end of his decade-long ordeal for his failure to prove that he is a born Indian and due to which he had remained in a detention center for over three years.
This is the tragic story of Mohammad Qamar alias Mohammad Kamil, the father of five grown-up children, who was arrested from Meerut in August 2011 for overstaying in India. He has spent a decade of his life paying for his mistake of not keeping his birth and citizens ship records with him.
Qamar was born in Meerut, UP, and when he was seven-eight years old, he had gone to Pakistan on a visit with his mother. As luck would have it, the mother passed away there and he was left in the care of his relatives who raised him as a Pakistani. However, the lure of his home got him back to his village in Meerut, UP; he married a local woman and settled in life least caring about expiry of visa or reclaiming his Indian citizenship.
Pakistan government refused to own him although he had entered India with a valid Pakistani passport and he did not have anything, including his Indian passport that was destroyed by his Pakistani relatives as of no use.
On the last hearing, the Supreme Court had asked the center, “How long you plan to keep the man in detention,” after he admitted his truth and that he has destroyed his Pakistani passport.
A Bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and Hima Kohli ordered the release of Qamar from Lampur detention center in Delhi where he has been detained since 2015 under the foreigners’ Act after he had served his three-and-a-half- years sentence for overstaying in India.
On Friday, the Supreme Court bench said since the Center and the UP government do not consider him as a security threat and that he was married to an India and had five children who are all Indians, the 63-year old year old could look for some succor at this advanced age, especially when the Pakistani High Commission is not confirming his Pakistani citizenship despite grant of counselor access twice.
Qamar alias Mohammad Kamil had already told the Court that he is keen to acquire Indian citizenship and that he should be released from detention to be able to apply for the same.
According to petitioners – three sons and two daughters of Mohammad Qamar – he was born in Meerut in 1958. “He (Qamar) had gone with his mother from India to Pakistan as a child of around 7-8 years in 1967-1968 on a visa to meet his relatives there. However, his mother died there, and he remained in Pakistan in the care of his relatives,” the plea of habeas corpus filed in the top court said.
It said that Qamar, on attaining adulthood, came back to India on a Pakistani passport in around 1989-1990 and got married to Shehnaaj Begum of Meerut and settled down there. He had no idea that he needs to get a visa extension.
He was arrested by Police and the Court declared him a citizen of Pakistan and guilty of illegally staying in India. He completed his sentence of three years and six months on February 6, 2015, and thereafter Qamar was sent to the Detention Centre at Lampur in Narela, New Delhi, for deportation to Pakistan. However, the Pakistan government did not accept his deportation and he continues to languish at the centre. seven years have passed since he was lodged there.
The petitioners accepted that their father has no documentary proof to show that he had gone with his mother to Pakistan in around 1967-68 and his mother died there. “Nevertheless, the undisputed fact is that he came to India around 1989-90 on a Pakistani passport and did not extend his visa due to lack of education and, subsequently, got married here,” it said.
Qamar's children have approached the Supreme Court with a plea that their father may be released so that he could apply for Indian citizenship as his five children are Indian citizens.