Six years ago, Haneef Maranveetil and his wife Aseena came to Karachi from Kannur in Kerala to dispose of some property belonging to his father, who was a Pakistani national. Haneef’s father, who owned a hotel and some houses and was here before Partition, passed way in 1992.
“We thought we could sell some of the assets since we had little money and go back home,” Haneef, 36, told The Hindu on the phone from Karachi. But it wasn’t as simple as that. The property was in the name of his father and it took three years to change the registration in the name of his uncle, who was running the hotel. In between, he lost his passport which was recovered only in 2009 and that too after a long investigation by the federal agencies.
Two years ago, the couple had a son and they cannot return to India unless he gets a passport. Haneef said he has applied for his son’s passport and submitted all relevant documents but there is no word on it from the Indian government. “We have been pursuing the case of registration of birth and grant of an emergency passport to our Karachi-born child Haseeb for several months. The whole case, along with all related documents, is with the Passport and Visa section of the High Commission,” he said in a recent letter to the Indian High Commission here.
On December 11, his wife gave birth to a daughter and they are trying to apply for a passport for her as well.
Haneef and his family are living in fear as he was served a deportation notice four months ago and can be thrown out of the country. “I don’t know what will happen to my son and daughter if we are sent back,” he rues.
When his wife was pregnant with the second child, he says, he tried to leave Pakistan but since his son’s passport was not ready he had to remain here. Under stress, his wife collapsed and had to undergo an emergency operation on December 11. He says that in his daughter’s case he cannot submit the online application form for issue of an emergency passport because the website is down. Since they have no visa they cannot come to the Indian High Commission’s office in Islamabad and pursue the matter.
B.M. Kutty, Member, Board of Directors, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education (PILER) and Secretary General, Pakistan PeaceCoalition (PPC) has taken up the matter with the authorities in India and Pakistan as well. Mr. Kutty said Haneef had submitted all the related documents to explain why he was living in Karachi for so many years and also paid the prescribed fees. As their Pakistani visas were not valid in Islamabad, they obtained a recommendation from the then Federal Minister Dr. Farooq Sattar to the Pakistan Interior Ministry for special permission to visit Islamabad. As a result, Haneef said he visited Islamabad and submitted relevant documents to the Indian High Commission in February this year.
Haneef says despite all this, his son’s passport has not been issued. Now he needs to apply for his daughter’s passport too. “We are not getting any further extension of our visa and I cannot take my children home,” he says. He is not even interested in selling his father’s property and only wants to return home with his family.