MUMBAI: “I request Union minister Sushma Swaraj to help bring my husband back from Pakistan,” said a teary-eyed Sajida, wife of Pakistani national Siraj Khan who was deported to his home country from Mumbai on Monday following court orders.
Sajida (39) and Siraj (37) married in Mumbai in 2005 and have three children. “My children are like orphans without their father. I am a poor woman and don’t know much about procedures. I just want my husband back,” said Sajida and broke down while talking to mediapersons at her modest one-room Antop Hill home on Wednesday.
Siraj was deported through the Attari border checkpoint in Punjab after a court ruled that he was illegally living in India.
Sajida took up bracelet making to earn Rs 100 a day ever since her husband was put under preventive detention in December 2017. Khan used to work as a waiter with a catering service and make Rs 10,000 a month.
The couple’s three children—Zara (12) and twins Inayat and Ejaz (7)—study in a Marathi medium school at Sion.
“My children walk 3km to reach their school. I have no money,” said Sajida and added that police did not inform her of her husband’s deportation. “It was my husband who called me to say cops were taking him to New Delhi. We rushed to the railway station to meet him. The next day, he called me and said he was being taken to Amritsar for deportation to Pakistan,” she said, adding that Siraj had lived in India for 27 years.
When he was 10, Siraj fled his Pakistan home after his father scolded him for failing an exam, said Sajida. He wanted to visit his uncle’s home in Karachi but took a wrong train and reached Amritsar. “A family took him to New Delhi. After three days, he took a train and reached Gujarat where he was detained as a ‘runaway child’ and sent to a children’s shelter. He spent several years there till a wall of the shelter collapsed and he was among 40 teenagers to flee. He then came to Mumbai,” said Sajida.
It was Sajida’s sister in-law who finalized her wedding with him. Sajida is youngest among four brothers and three sisters.
“Sometime before Eid in 2014, someone suggested that he visit the CID for help in getting a passport to go to Pakistan. He wanted to take all of us to his hometown for Eid to meet his family. However, cops told the media that they had ‘raided’ our house,” said Sajida. Siraj was booked for staying illegally in the country. “I request the government to give him an Indian nationality or send me and my kids to Pakistan,” said Sajida and added that social worker Raj Awasthi, who is helping her, has written to the Prime Minister and the National Human Rights Commission for help, but there has been no response so far. “If Adnan Sami (singer) can be given Indian citizenship, then why not my husband? Is it because we are poor?”
The family said they had filed an application for Siraj’s Indian citizenship and it was pending. Siraj called Sajida after reaching Lahore. “I spoke to my in-laws too. Khan told me he will prepare a passport and come back to meet us soon. I will fight for his nationality until we get justice.”
The Times of India, Mumbai