Shah Rukh Khan fan’s family awaits him in PakistanNovember 14th, 2008 - 3:17 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad/Chandigarh, Nov 14 (IANS) The father of Nasir Sultan, a 15-year-old Pakistani boy who has been imprisoned since August for having entered India illegally to meet Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, is hopeful that the Punjab and Haryana High Court will soon order his son’s release.The boy is lodged at the juvenile jail in Punjab’s Faridkot town, about 250 km from Chandigarh, after he was arrested by Border Security Force (BSF) from near the India-Pakistan border.
Nasir has been booked under the Foreigners Act and the Passport Act for illegally entering India. He told the police that he came to India to meet Shah Rukh and also to participate in a TV reality singing contest.
He was brought to the Amritsar prison earlier this month after Pakistani embassy officials came there to complete formalities to secure his release along with that of few other Pakistani nationals lodged in Indian jails.
“The court will hear my son’s case on Nov 19 and I am confident that they will order his immediate release as he is innocent,” Nasir’s father Sultan Zareen told IANS.
Nasir, a Class 10 student, is a resident of Dir in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) that is witnessing intense fighting between the militants and security forces. He left his house on the morning of Aug 14, saying he would return in the evening but called his parents after about a month to inform them that he was in jail in India.
Zareen said Nasir’s mother keeps looking at the door, hoping her son will walk in.
“Her condition is very bad. I promise the Indian authorities that Nasir will never take such a step again… please let him go free,” he said in a pleading voice.
Zareen has been repeatedly visiting Islamabad to met several ministers, including Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, since he found out that his son is in an Indian jail.
“All promised to take up the matter with the Indian authorities but no one has come back with any news… only NGOs are working to secure my son’s release,” said Zareen.
Leading human rights activist from Pakistan, Ansar Burney, who has taken up Nasir’s case before the high court in Chandigarh through city-based rights activist and lawyer Ranjan Lakhanpal, has said that India and Pakistan needed to evolve a mechanism to return those who inadvertently cross the international border.
Burney had earlier this year helped repatriate Indian prisoner Kashmir Singh, who was sentenced to death in Pakistan on terror charges after spending 35 years in Pakistani prisons.
Zareen said Burney has been in touch with him and calls him almost every week.
Nasir, oldest of four brothers, studied at the Government Ganori High School and is fond of Indian movies, particularly those starring Shah Rukh.
“I am going to India and will appear before the high court on Nov 19 to plead Nasir’s case and am confident that the court will take a sympathetic view of the juvenile arrest,” Burney told IANS.
He said that India is signatory to UN Charter of Child Rights and under this they cannot keep a teenager under arrest for too long.
“Of course, Nasir crossed the border illegally but he should have been handed over to Pakistan after his identity was proved,” said Burney, regretting that India filed a case against him under the Foreigners Act that can only be applied to adults.
Burney feared that Nasir may have been lured by some human traffickers.
“I understand that he behaves like a hero and keeps his appearance like Shah Rukh Khan, but how come a child living in remote area like Dir went all the way to cross the border into India,” he said.
The rights activist added that he will request the court to allow him to communicate with Nasir in person and without the presence of any security people.
“I want to ask him how he managed and who helped him cross the border. I swear that I will pass on this information to the governments of Pakistan and India so that steps can be taken to halt such crossings,” Burney said.
Nasir’s father said that his son called home again on Tuesday and “we are happy that he is in a juvenile jail and is being properly taken care by the jail authorities”.
He said that during his several visits he tried to meet the Indian high commissioner in Pakistan but could not do so because of the tight security.
“No one allowed me to even go close to the high commission… even the foreign minister asked me to go back and said he himself will take up this matter with the Indian authorities.”
“I am worried about my son and his mother… she may lose her senses. God help us,” said Zareen, adding that he is hopeful that Burney will bring back his son.
“I am not sure if Nasir can be released on Nov 19, but we’ll certainly do our best to secure freedom for the boy,” said Burney.