A twist in persecution: light notes on my life in India

It was an evening of February 11, 2013 when we landed at Delhi airport, and moved towards an economy hotel in Pahar Gunj. After taking dinner went to Moolchand Hospital and were given appointment for the next day. We were told that the hospital cannot issue me room aimed for patients. Fine! We moved back in the hotel again. When we left other day for the hospital, I saw a few faces in the vicinity of hotel, which were also available when I was persecuted and poisoned in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2012. I was shocked indeed! I just called a Sindhi friend who was in stress enough that he refused to see me. 

As soon as I reached doctor’s chamber, at least three Pakistanis were waiting there and were claiming to be patients. Since I had a time bound appointment, I asked the hospital’s international patients desk person for timely facilitation. As soon as I moved forward, the Pakistani patients tried to enter the doctor’s chamber before me and on the resistance of receptionist they exchanged hot words with him. 

The doctor was very humble and kind but refused to suggest poison diagnosis. Earlier I also called one of the people of my acquaintance in an Indian think-tank. He called me back while I was in the hospital and asked me to visit him on the address he told. We met. He took me to the AIMS hospital with kindness. As we checked out from the hospital and he left for home, someone all of sudden arrived and said, “Go wherever you want, you have to go down in the grave.” He went away. I was shunt. 

Another person, a friend of the above mentioned person advised us to rent a room in any hotel at certain place. We came to know, after visiting that area near Lajpat Nagar that it was full with Pakistani, Afghans and Arabs. We refused. On our way back from there, two motor-bikers told us they we won’t get room anywhere. We have to return back to Pahar Gunj. Thanks to a friend who managed our stay at hostel of the Indian Social Institute. 

One of my visa application referee, talked with me and offered me a free stay at the NGO hostel he was associated with. After half an hour he called me back and said that it was better for me to leave India as soon as possible! 

After a few days we moved to Munirka. Delhitte are fond of ‘Adrak Wali Chai’ (tea with ginger) but whenever I took that tea, my health further deteriorated. I started taking simple tea from a tea-vendor near Partab Market Police Chowki. All of sudden tea-vendor was unavailable. He came back after nearly a couple of months. I went there and asked him for simple tea. He refused and said, ‘Do you want me to close down tea-shop once again.” 

While I was giving sit-in at Jantar Mantar, once I forgot my USB Drive at an internet café where I used to go every-day. The staff was very friendly with me because I was a customer going there since months. A supervisor of the café, a girl, used to call me ‘Zulfi Bhaya’ took the USB Drive with herself with intention that it would be safe with her and she would be returning it to me the next day. The very next day she gave it to me and told me that she came into trouble because of my USB Drive. Yes! She was probably harassed due to that. 

Once I was told by a Delhi Police Bhawan official that my Long Term Visa (LTV) is approved but I would be given Visa for every two months instead. I asked why this is being done with me while I am on legal documents, having UNHCR Refugee recognition, and have applied for refugee resettlement in India. He kept silent. Just said, ‘This is our country, not UN.’ I went back to Jantar Mantar, and said to Fatima in anger that Ajmal Qasabs can enter this country without visa but an activist, journalist and refugee cannot have visa! Do they want me to be an illegal refugee or a do some kind of act of terror in Delhi or Mumbai to get what I am requesting for. They should not treat us like this. 

Why I said this? Because in April 2013, while applying for visa extension, I told an inspector that I am refugee and have UNHCR recognition, so kindly extent my visa on that basis. He simply said, we don’t recognize it. Later on, I talk with SHO at Pak Section on the issue. He said come after a couple of days and he will listen me in detail and consider my application if it would be worth considered. Unfortunately, we shared this with one management person of hostel in Munirka where we were living. When I went to the office of SHO after a couple of days, I came to know that he is transferred. When returned back, I was asked by that hostel person: “Did you meet SHO?” I kept silence. Later on when I gave sit-in outside Press Club of India, I was asked for meeting on November 5, 2013 in Pak Section and was told “We have just came to know that those who hold UNHCR recognition are eligible for LTV.” It’s November 9, 2014 at the moment, I haven’t been issued LTV as yet. 

Recently I purchased Paneer (cheese) worth Indian Rupees 20. A surveillance person came and asked, ‘Kam Dhandha Koi Naheen, Paneer Pe Paneer Toorey Ja Rahe Ho!’ (You don’t earn, but purchase a piece of Cheese) How can I work without a LTV as per law? 

A good man has told me recently that I am under watch. Great! Watch me! But don’t persecute, disturb and humiliate me. I would try my best to move outside India. I am just waiting for my refugee resettlement elsewhere! 

Zulfiqar Shah, New Delhi, India November 9, 2014