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Sabera founder sent packing
- Writers' tight-lipped on deportation

Calcutta, Dec. 25: Sabera India, known for its celebrity sponsors, found itself under the glare of a scandal this festive weekend, with founder-director Carlos Duran deported late tonight.

The founder of the Kalitala-based NGO that has played host to Ricky Martin more than once, was, according to airport sources, put on the Royal Jordanian flight after being detained at Dum Dum airport since yesterday afternoon. (Delayed by about two hours, the flight took off around 1 am.)

Home secretary Amit Kiran Deb told The Telegraph: 'We had orders from Delhi to deport him and we are just doing that. We do not know the reason.'

The Spanish national claimed that he was called to Bhabani Bhavan on Friday morning for a 'routine' check and then taken to the airport, where he was kept in the customs office.

'It was a normal call, and I took my passport and went to see the officials. After a long chat, they suddenly bundled me into an Ambassador and took me to the security control office on AJC Bose Road. I was made to sign some documents and then taken straight to the airport around 4 pm. I don't know why I am being deported,' Duran said over his cellphone this afternoon.

Around the same time, a contingent of children from the NGO's home in South 24-Parganas, along with Duran's wife Celestine and a few volunteers, went to Raj Bhavan to meet the governor. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was also petitioned.

'We must know why they are sending him back. They can't just deport him suddenly after five years,' said a tearful Celestine, a Calcutta girl. 'We will not give up. What will happen to the more-than-100 children when he leaves' I can't follow him because I have to stay here and look after them.'

Duran said he was being looked after by the officials, but not allowed to meet anyone. He was reportedly taken to RG Kar Medical College and Hospital this evening when he complained of ill health, but was back in the airport a short while later.

Duran started the NGO for young girls in 1999, along with friend and Spanish singer Nacho Cano. The duo had a high-profile list of supporters, including Hollywood actors Penelope Cruz and Melanie Griffith and, of course, singer Martin.

All three stars sponsor Sabera children and have visited the city. Following a rift, Cano and Duran split, after which Griffith and Cruz allegedly snapped ties with the foundation.

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