Home ministry regrets sending Burney back
New Delhi, May 31
Although the home affairs ministry lost no time in undoing the damage through a note of regret and an inquiry, topped with a personal assurance of a standing invitation to the humiliated human rights activist, its clarification was rather feeble.
The ministry clarified that Burney was denied entry and not deported by the immigration official on duty on account of inadequate documentation.
“The inconvenience to Burney is unfortunate and regrettable and he is always welcome to visit India. This has also been conveyed to Burney by a senior officer who spoke to him today,’’ a spokesperson of the home ministry said.
Sources said an inquiry into the incident was ordered after foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and home secretary Madhukar Gupta discussed the matter.
In its defence, the home ministry drew attention to Burney’s hassle free visit to India last month, which had been announced earlier. A senior officer of the home ministry said there was no prior information to the Foreigners Regional Registration Office from the appropriate authorities. Besides, Burney’s papers were not in order.
However, the aggrieved minister has an altogether different story to tell of the shabby treatment meted out to him at the airport.
What makes matters worse for an already embarrassed government is Burney’s demand that the Indian government owes him an apology for such treatment. In an interview to a news channel, Burney said his sound explanation to the immigration officers, spelling out the exact purpose of his visit, fell on deaf ears.
“I tried to tell the officers that I had come to India for important meetings, talks about prisoner exchange. I told them that I had come to India earlier without any objections from the Indian authority.’’
Burney made news earlier this year by securing the release of Kashmir Singh, who spent 35 years on a death row in a Lahore jail, on charges of espionage.
He is also playing a key role in efforts to save death row convict, Sarabjit Singh, charged with triggering bomb blasts in Lahore in 1990.