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Palestinian makes desperate efforts to return home in Gaza

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Kolkata: Twenty-seven years after he came to India with the dream of graduating from a university in the country, Fatouh Ahmed Mahmud Abu Satta is facing an uncertain future as his return to his home in Gaza in Palestine is stuck in red tape.

Fatouh landed in India in 1989 when he was 22 years old and just six years after that he was sent to a prison, though his brush with the law-enforcing authorities began in 1993 when he was first arrested in Nagpur under the Foreigners Act for overstaying.

He was released on bail shortly after, but his travel documents were seized.

He again got arrested for alleged criminal activity in Delhi and West Bengal and was sent to prison in 1995. Since then he has been serving his time in a West Bengal prison. He completed his sentence in 2013, but for absence of proper documents he was not released.

Director-General of Correctional Services in West Bengal Arun Kumar Gupta told PTI, “We couldn’t release him in 2013 after his prison term was over as he did not have any proper papers. And it is a normal procedure that if a foreign convict doesn’t have any proper papers we can’t leave him after he completes his term. Later on an initiative of CHRI, an NGO working on refugees, got in touch with the embassy of Palestine and got his papers.”

“He was eventually released from prison on May 11, but he could not board the flight as the Emirates Airlines refused to let him fly as he was a deportee, leading to his return to jail again,” Gupta said.

This fact was confirmed by the Emirates Airlines.

On a query, a spokesman for the airlines said in a statement, “Emirates confirms that a passenger who was booked on our flight EK 573 departing from Kolkata to Cairo via Dubai on 11 May this year was a deportee. The passenger was denied boarding due to lack of necessary permits from some of the concerned authorities in India and the United Arab Emirates.”

Fatouh Ahmed now has to wait for another few months before the Gaza borders opened again and talks were on with the airlines, apart from the Emirates Airlines, to take him to his county, Gupta said.

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