Mistakenly identified by the Iranian police as Pakistanis, Abdul Majeed Zaheer and his son were sent on a bus to Pakistan last July and landed up at the Sarim Burney Welfare Trust. They have been living in the organisation’s shelter home since then, the Express Tribune in Pakistan reported.
But this month, a sessions court directed the home department to clear the two and deport them within the next 15 days. On May 16, the special branch’s foreigner registration officer wrote to the home department to issue the deportation orders. “I hope that the process is completed soon so that I can go home,” said the lean-framed Zaheer, as he sat in the social activist’s office while his son, five-year-old Ashiff wandered about. “I had gone to Tehran from Sri Lanka with my son and wife in 2013. Despite the fact that the visa ended in two months, I continued to stay there so I could find a job.” Zaheer’s wife found work as a cook in an embassy, while he would do odd jobs to keep the house running.
But in 2015, tragedy struck. Zaheer’s wife left him and he was caught by the police when he and his son had gone picnicking near the border. “They asked for my passport but I didn’t show it to them because my visa was expired. So they thought that I was a Pakistani and sent me off on a bus with other men who had entered Iran illegally.”
According to Zaheer, there were a lot of Pakistanis living near the border. While in the bus on the way from Mand to Quetta, a local suggested he contact Burney for help. According to Burney, a petition was filed by the organisation for his deportation and very recently he had gotten permission to leave but there had been no help from the Sri Lankan embassy.
Zaheer, who hails from Trincomalee, a port city in Sri Lanka, helps Burney by driving him and members of the organisation to work in the city and knows the way to Sea View and even Mubarak Village. “I like the food here but I haven’t gotten used to the chapati,” he said.
Zaheer, 35, who is in touch with his mother and siblings, plans to start his own business along with his brother back home.
As Burney is waiting for the deportation orders to make arrangements for Zaheer’s ticket back home, Zaheer says he is leaving with good memories. “I got too much here. Everyone was very nice.” (Colombo Gazette)