The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jail over, Iraqi refuses to return home

Behrampore, June 9: Ali Hafez is from Saddam Hussein’s country. He was put in prison here for staying without valid papers.

But having completed his term, the Iraqi national has told authorities that he doesn’t want to go back to Iraq minus Saddam and under American control.

The 50-year-old unani — traditional Islamic medicine — practitioner was picked up by police in August 1999 from a village in the Kandi police station area. He was charged under the foreigners’ Act and sentenced to three years in jail and fined Rs 50,000 by the additional district judge in Kandi.

Unable to pay the fine, the Iraqi spent an additional six months in prison. Hafez completed his term this January but the jail administration has not moved any file to get him deported to battle-scarred Iraq.

Sources in the jail said the judge had directed that “the Government of India and the Government of West Bengal take necessary steps after expiry of sentence”. The jail authorities pointed out that it was up to the state home department to begin the process of sending Hafez back to Iraq.

A senior prison official said Hafez was from Al Amarah in Iraq and his wife from Karnataka. “He said his son Sadek Ali and daughter Mobarak Sultana now live in a village near Mysore. He had told his fellow inmates that he wanted to stay in India with his children though his wife was still in Iraq,” the official added.

District magistrate Manoj Panth said: “I enquired after hearing about the Iraqi who had served his term. Actually, deporting a foreigner is a long drawn procedure but we are trying to initiate the process of sending him back to his country. It will take some time.”

The police said Hafez had rented a house at Sahispara near Kandi and had told the landlord he was from Karnataka. “The police became suspicious and began monitoring his movements. After his arrest, Hafez could not produce his papers,” said a senior police officer.

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