For Flying An Ailing Kashmiri Refugee, Australia Spent Rs 2.06 Cr For A Charter

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SRINAGAR: A Bandipore resident, who somehow landed in a remote island, near Australia is in news for getting “preferential” treatment. The government had charted a special aircraft to fly him out to Taiwan for a kidney ailment and it was negatively reported by the media in the region.

Haji Mohammad Nisar, who landed in a Central Pacific island while trying to get into Australia. A resident of Bandipore, he has married there but is still a refugee.

Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), a hybrid-media group in Australia reported that Haji Nisar, as this Kashmiri refugee is being called, has been the son of a person, who would “work with the Indian army”. The report quoted Haji saying: “Many did not like it so one night some people stormed into our home and started beating my father. I could not bear the sight. I felt hurt. It was harrowing to see my father like that.”

Haji said that since they were “living in fear” as they were “stuck between India and Pakistan”, he one day decided to go to Australia. Then he was 37. He has told the SBS that he paid “a hefty amount to an agent” and he took him to Indonesia via Malaysia.

“It was a long journey,” Haji told the SBS, “sometimes we walked. Sometimes we travelled by bus. Sometimes it was during the day, sometimes night. Finally, we hopped on to a boat to Australia.” But destiny has something different for him. “The boat never reached its intended destination, and Haji Nisar ended up on Nauru,” the SBS reads.

Nasir has been there for the last six years. He is stuck there as a refugee. “My father died; I was not there. My mother passed away; I could not meet her,” Nasir was quoted saying. “I cannot work because of my kidneys. I am not getting proper treatment. I cannot see anything from here. I have lost everything.”

Haji Mohammad Nisar has married a local health worker and, according to SBS is living in a make-shift home on $ 400, a month. Earlier he was in a refugee camp that has been closed since. Since 2014, he has had a kidney ailment and later some youth attacked him and broke his teeth. The refugees had access to medical care by Doctors Without Border (MSF) but the Nauru government rolled back the permission in October 2018.

In was in this backdrop that Nisar was flown to Taiwan for removing his kidney stones. He stayed there for three months and was seen taking pictures like a tourist. “A media outlet picked up the story, claiming taxpayers ‘forked out’ $300,000 to fly him there by a privately chartered jet,” SBS reported. “It claimed social media photos of Nisar onboard the jet showed him ‘relaxing’ and ‘enjoying full access to the mini-bar’.”  He was flown on a Gulfstream aircraft that was charted as is the practice if the routine commercial flights are not available.

But Nisar has told the SBS that he was flown for treatment with an Iranian refugee for which he is grateful. Nauru has 430 refugees. “I’m a Muslim, I don’t drink or smoke,” SBS quoted him saying. The decision to send refugees to Taiwan for treatment is being taken by the Australian government.

“The Indian refugee’s Facebook account shows him relaxing on board the luxurious aircraft on both legs of his trip,” Mailonline report when he was flown out of the island.  “On the return flight, he could be seen enjoying full access to the jet’s mini-bar.”

It further added: “He was pictured at a famous rock formation in Yeh Liu Geo Park near the capital Taipei and at a zoo, and was seen taking in other tourist attractions.” The report said that the hospital where Haji treated cost between $300 – $400 a day.

 Kashmir Life tried to locate Haji Nisar’s family in Bandipore but failed. “We have no idea about the person,” one senior police officer from the district said.

Haji Mohammad Nissar, a resident of Bandipore, is a refugee is Nauru island, the third tiniest member of the UN with a population of 13000 people.

Nauru is a 21-sq kilometre island in central Pacific. It is a member of the United Nations and is managed by a president who has a 19-member parliament. It is the world’s third tiniest country with a population of 11,347, according to open sources.

In 1947, the United Nations established a trusteeship with Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom as trustees under which the three countries jointly administer the Nauru Island. It is literally being managed by Australia. The Island evolved its self-government in 1966 and declared independence in 1968. It has no army but a small police force. Phosphate-Rich island is one of world’s richest small places.

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