The more the things change, the more they stay the same. Even may get worse.
It was in the early 1980s. I was posted in Indore. I wanted to see a judgement delivered by the court in Neemuch a few days earlier. I reached there by taking an overnight bus and was in the court before 10. A woman in her late 20s was in charge of the record room. I identified myself and told her the purpose of my visit to Neemuch. She asked me to come three days later. Staying there three days was not possible for me. I pleaded and pleaded and pleaded with her but to no effect. Feeling dejected, I stood by a pillar in the veranda when a lawyer came to me and asked about my business in the court. I explained to him everything. He asked me to give the lady ten rupees and she would show me the file. I was horrified. I did not have the courage to offer ten rupees to a woman. So I requested his help and gave him a 20-rupee note. From his purse he took out two ten-rupee notes; one he gave me, took me to the woman and gave her the other tenner. Promptly, the lady told me sweetly: Vo saamne ki almari mein upar ke khane mein us case ki file hai, aap nikaal lijiye (There in the upper shelf of the Almira is the file of the case. Please take it).
Now the case which took me to Neemuch. There was a Muslim family in Ajmer. The man was head master of a high school. His two young sons were studying in the same school. Wife’s brother was settled in Pakistan (perhaps Karachi). The boys went to Pakistan to spend some time in Mama (Maternal Uncle)’s house. While they were there, relations between the two countries deteriorated following Bangladesh war. Pakistan declared India an enemy country. In panic, Mama destroyed the Indian passports of the boys and managed Pakistani passports for them.
Normal relations were restored between the two countries during the Janata Party government of Morarji Desai. The two brothers came to India on Pakistani passports and applied for Indian passports explaining the circumstances in which they had to acquire the Pakistani passports. Their case was pleaded by Barrister Umashankar Trivedi, who was an eminent Supreme Court lawyer and had specialised in such cases. The Ministry of External Affairs, however, denied them the Indian passports. The Ministry’s decision was challenged in the court. I don’t remember now how the case was shifted to Neemuch. The Neemuch court, however, upheld the government decision.
On reaching Neemuch, I first met Barrister Trivedi, who lived in Neemuch. He was absolutely confident about the boys getting the Indian passports as they were born and brought up in India. After seeing the judgement and taking necessary notes, I went to the police station where the boys were supposed to be kept in havalat. But the Thanedar said: Hum ne ye roj roj ka jhanjhat nibta diya.
On Barrister Umashankar Trivedi’s instructions, an Indore lawyer (known to me) challenged the Neemuch court judgement in the Madhya Pradesh High Court (Indore Bench). That’s how I came to know of the case.
On reaching Neemuch, I first met Barrister Trivedi, who lived in Neemuch. He was absolutely confident about the boys getting the Indian passports as they were born and brought up in India. After seeing the judgement and taking necessary notes, I went to the police station where the boys were supposed to be kept in havalat. But the Thanedar (police officer) said: Hum ne ye roj roj ka jhanjhat nibta diya. Hum unhe jeep mein baithake Barmer le gaye aur seema se us paar Pakistan mein push kar diya. Ab Pakistan jaane aur vo jaanen (We have removed this everyday problem. We took them in a jeep to the India-Pakistan border in Barmer district and pushed them on the Pakistan side. Now it is between Pakistan and them).
When I reported this to Barrister Trivedi, he was simply devastated. For quite some time he was not able to speak.
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