A runaway kid returns home only to be branded as a Pakistani
Lying back in his wooden easy chair, 60-year-old Challikkulathil Ibrayi, heaves a sigh of relief. With a sardonic smile on his face, he says that he is able to sleep properly at least now. Born and brought up at Vallikad in Kozhikode district of Kerala, Ibrayi had been fighting a legal battle for seven years to prove his Indian nationality. Finally the verdict came on September 23 in his favour.
His misery started at the age of 11 when he ran away from home after his mother beat him for losing some money. The year was 1969. The young Ibrayi’s only aim then was to repay the lost amount. For some months he worked at a hotel in Mahe. From there he went to Mumbai, Ajmer and Chennai and worked in hotels and shops for nearly eight years. ”I kept sending Umma (mother) whatever I earned. Financial situation back home was bad then, as Bappa (father) had left us after I was born,” recollects Ibrayi. He decided to make good money before returning home so that his Umma did not have to suffer.
So he left for Dubai along with some others in a launch by paying Rs 300 to an agent. ”Many used to go like that. None of us had any travel documents,” says Ibrayi. But the agent cheated them and dropped them in Karachi instead of taking them to Dubai. With no other option, Ibrayi worked in a hotel. After nine long years, he wanted to come back and spend the rest of his life with his family. He ruled out a clandestine journey after he learned that one of his friends who had illegally travelled to India on a launch had been killed. After arranging a Pakistan passport through an agent, he finally returned to his homeland.
Vindicated: Ibrahyi’s legal battle to prove his Indian nationality cost him his health and wealth
Meanwhile, his friends advised him not to stay in Kerala since he might be caught and sent back. He went to work in different places like Ajmer, Delhi and Mumbai and visited his house in Kerala only once in a while. In between, he gave a petition to the district collector and the chief minister regarding the issue.
However, on the morning of May 24 2003, while Ibrahyi visited his hometown to see his ailing mother, Edachery police took him in their custody. They asked him to come to the station for an enquiry but detained him for 45 days on the charge that he was a Pakistani spy staying illegally in India.
” We ran from pillar to post to find a way out. The police kept saying that there weren’t valid documents to prove that he was an Indian. His name in the ration card, voter’s identity card and even in the school register wasn’t enough proof for them,” says his wife Nabisa, whom Ibrahyi had married after his return to India.
0n July 27 2003, he was sent to the Wagah border for deportation. But the Indian Emigration Office did not find enough proof of his Pakistani citizenship and decided to send him back home. Then, the legal battle that took a toll on his wealth and health began.
He has lost counts of the times he climbed up and down the stairs of Edachery police station, district police chief’s office and the court. Now, although an asthma patient, he sells fish to make a living and take care of his family - wife Nabisa and daughters Hanna and Ansira.