Reality Check India

Sovereignty and Immigration, the Haneef case

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 18, 2007

Sometimes, I wonder if we Indians grok the concept of immigration at all. Perhaps we really do believe that the world is without borders, and that the immigration counters at airports are just inconveniences. Perhaps, we also think that the Government of India’s sovereign extends to the affairs of all human beings with Indian blood (see my posts on the PIO University).

The Haneef case – What is India protesting ?

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) summoned the Australian envoy and demanded that Haneef be treated “justly and fairly” under Australian law.  This is fine and the MEA indignation and the media circus must stop here. The Indian government must not express outrage at the cancellation of his visa or his deportation back to India.  I can fully understand the anxiety of Haneefs relatives and friends, but they need to be patient.

Australia has every right to run him through their legal system. There is no evidence that the Australians have presumed him to be guilty.  It must be remembered that Australia has an anti-terror law. The Congress led UPA government might have found POTA useless, it does not mean the rest of the world agrees. Indeed the Australian anti-terror law makes it an offence to even send funds to a terror group.   Instead of acting coy and offended, India must extend all help to the Australian investigating authorities. 

India is in for a Reality Check

Pardon me for the following statement, but there is a reason why Indians flock to Western (read “white mans”) countries. Even after such alleged mistreatment, why must Haneef fight deportation? Why cant he just say, “To hell with you and your laws” – and return to India ?

I have asked this question to many NRI folks, the answers range from better environment, freedom, tastier fruits and thicker milk, to roads, to 911. I suspect the real answer is along the lines of , “Hey, we can let these white guys do all the nation building (or maintaining). We will let them deal with root issues maintaining the sanctity of the constitution, coming up with laws, the environment, and basic liberties. That would be cool because we can just focus on our jobs. All we have to do is follow a well codified set of rules. We get our promotions, our house, and cars. How easy is that ?”

Guess what, Western countries also put their foot down when challenges are thrown to their sovereignity. There is no scope for “adjustment”.  They may appear to be room for parties with divergent views, but their goals of the parties will be in alignment.  For example : Do you really think the American Democrats will repeal the Patriot Act like the UPA did with POTA ?

See what the Attorney General Phillip Ruddock has to say :

Mohammed Haneef was granted conditional bail by a Brisbane Magistrate despite anti-terrorism laws stipulating a presumption against bail in such cases.

Philip Ruddock has told Lateline it is one area the Government is concerned about.

“The matter that I will be looking at very seriously is this question of the presumption against bail, there was an expectation as to how it would operate and if appeals suggest that we’ve got it wrong, well it’s a matter that the Parliament might well be asked to put right,” he said

Source : ABC Australia

Perhaps this is shocking to people in India under the UPA rule. Mr Ruddock is actually wants to take this to the Parliament to make the anti-terror laws even tougher.   See his retort to his domestic liberal critics.

FACED with hostile media questions about the laws governing the detention of Mohammed Haneef last week, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock cut to the chase. “I tell you,” Ruddock shot back, “you would be asking me different kinds of questions if these inquiries were truncated unnecessarily and some terrible event happened in Australia. You’d be after me unmercifully.”


So, Haneef is a known associate of two men who allegedly tried to blow up central London and drove a car loaded with petrol bombs into Glasgow airport. Not only that, he’s connected to them via the mechanism used to try to detonate the bombs. On what reading of these facts can you argue against laws designed to at least pick Haneef up and subject him to a sustained period of questioning?

Source : The Australian

We hope the MEA knows its limits and not trespass on sovereign nations’ rights to formulate their own laws. If private Indian citizens perceive any such laws as draconian, they are completely free to boycott those countries where such laws are in force. They can stay back in India or immigrate to other countries.

18 Responses

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  1. srinias said, on July 18, 2007 at 5:28 am

    It is unfortunate that India is slowly becoming part of the ongoing conflict between Moslems and christans..

  2. Jai_Choorakkot said, on July 18, 2007 at 5:42 am

    Have to disagree with you on some counts here. I found the India govts request to the Australian authorities to be perfectly appropriate, and our police have cooperated with the investigations.

    There IS a shade of vote-bankery creeping in (anguish, sleepless nights, impassioned appeals) and that is unfortunate but overall we are doing very well. I hope any Indian of any creed will get the same support in these circumstances- okay maybe minus some of those histrionics listed above- but substantially the same stand.

    And I think, unless the Aussies are holding on to something very damaging that they havent disclosed yet, their case against Haneef is spectacularly weak. On the basis of what I know now, I am 100% in support of Dr.Haneef.

    Agree with you that if true this will hold up in due process under Australian law and we should nt be seen as trying to intercede in that.


  3. realitycheck said, on July 18, 2007 at 6:07 am

    I said it was fine for the MEA to appeal for “fair treatment”. Thats it, it must stop there. I too support Haneef “100%” in the sense that he is “100% entitled to a fair trial as per Australian law” (not under Indian law).

    Should the MEA take up his immigration issues too ? If the Australian government cancels his visa (they have cancelled 150+ visas last year alone of everyone from Afghans, Pakistanis, Filipinos, etc ) and deports him, why should India break into a sweat ? At worst, Bangalore would gain an additional doctor.

    >. And I think, unless the Aussies are holding on to something very damaging that they havent disclosed yet, >>

    Yes, there seem be undisclosed evidence, the Australian envoy hinted at it yesterday. You cannot put everything on the table when it comes to trials of terror suspects. Can you release information about informers, compromised cells, communications that would tip off others ? This is exactly what the Mumbai commissioner investigating the train blasts said last year.

    The safest bet for Australia would be to say to India, “Here you keep your man !”

    None of what I said has any bearing on the actual guilt of Haneef’s association with his cousins.

  4. Revathi said, on July 18, 2007 at 7:50 am

    The best thing that can happen to Haneef is being deported to India. He can have a tearful reunion with his family and can simply melt into the teeming millions without a trace.
    Haneef should thank his stars that he is in Australia and not in the USA- where he may have been just deported to guantanamo. Not even God can get him out of there. There are several cases where european govts are moving heaven and earth to get their guys out of guantanamo and very few have succeeded.
    What our PM says has no effect on anyone because every one in the world knows that he is a PM only in name. If he going to lose sleep everytime an indian parent loses his/her child, I dont think he will ever sleep.

  5. shadows said, on July 18, 2007 at 8:05 am

    Much ado about nothing… Who cares what Aussies do with him? We sure dont want a terrorist back in India, do we?

    Another nail in the coffin – the theory that its only the poor uneducated muslims who become terrorists, and they are terrorists because of the same reason..

    Allah ho Akhbar…

  6. Barbarindian said, on July 18, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Dr. Haneef and his family should send a personal thank you note to Dr. Manmohan Singhji and Sagarika Ghosh for his extended ordeal.

    There is a huge media component to this. There is pressure from domestic “religious fundamentalist” lobbies (the Auzzie equivalent of Hindutva types in India like Mel Gibson) who would utterly hate their Government to bow down to external pressure, especially the Turban headed PM of a third world country. The liberal media and citizens will cry foul if Haneef is not let go and as soon as he is let go they will turn around and accuse the terror enforcement for incompetence.

    I don’t quite agree that the Indian Government’s behavior has been proper or honorable. This is a circus. They already released two Docs, there is no reason to believe they will generally go overboard to punish Dr. Haneef. But now the cards are on the table and stakes are high.

  7. Kumar said, on July 18, 2007 at 5:46 pm


    Agree with you here. But Auzzie govt have a snooty attitude preaching us at times as to what we should do or not. If I remember they threw a fit during Pokhran blasts and also 2002 Godhara riots; insisting we treat minorities better – this from theives of aborginies land!
    So for our MEA to put up a dog-n-pony show (which goes nowhere) flexing it’s muscle might be a good feel good situation and must have felt good for those MEA chaps.

    But how do you think Aussies are going to react say next time someone named Abdul Hussain Malik from Bhendi Bazar of Mumbai goes to the Aussie embassy for a student visa? If I was Abdul, I’d be cursing Manmohan for putting his foot firmly up my behind. Thanks Manmoron, you’d sell me down the river for that on extra vote.

    Talking of Manmohan and his concerns for overseas Indians, when was the last time he went out of the way for a Hindu oppressed outside India. Hindu America Foundation recently put a report out on Hindu Human Rights watch and it’s even acknowledged by US Congress. Has Manmohan even read this report? Or even cares? Does anyone here knows if Manmohan sweat a drop when that Hindu sounding truck driver was kidnapped and killed by AQ or Taliban last year.

    Bottom line: Haneef deserves his day in court and his visa reissued if found not guilty after which, whether he decides to stay or not is his decision.
    Manmohan should clear shit in his own backyard before sending sermons to other nations. I’m surprised that Howard didn’t tell him to buzz off.

  8. […] Reality check, on the other hand, has a different take. […]

  9. PinkTaco said, on July 19, 2007 at 12:01 am

    Just deport the guy and get this over with.

    The Aussies have to deal with the fact that there is a PR angle to the whole war on terror. The way this story is being played out in the media there are questions being raised on the issue of race. People will get touchy when it comes to this.

    Another point is people in Australia and India have a right to protest his detention because the justifications aren’t clear or in their opinion fair. They cancel his visa just when he’s set free on bail. In a free society you treat people fairly. And holding someone without evidence is not the way free democratic society functions. And using the “we have evidence but can’t reveal it” argument is lame. You can always comment on the nature of the evidence and if it in anyway is admissible in the court of law. If it isn’t then there is no case. If they do have something concerete they ought to go out and get a judge to extend his detainment.

  10. […] Reality Check India reflects on the Haneef case – on the issues of immigration and sovereignty. Share This […]

  11. Barbarindian said, on July 19, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Funny how the media is still using his baby faced picture.

  12. observer said, on July 19, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    The object behind cancelling his visa is to incarcerate him until after his trail, which could take a couple of years to come to court. It was to nullify the decision by the Brsbane magistrate to grant him bail on the basis that the case against him was extremely weak. If it was a simple case of allowing himself toi be deported to India, I am sure Hannef would grasp that opportunity with both hands.

    This decision to lay what is obviously a bogus terrorism charge is comp-letely political, with a desperate government willing to destroy the life of an innocent man in an attempt to induce a spike in the opinion polls. What is the reputation of one Indian, when such are the stakes? Indian don’t have reputations anyway.

  13. realitycheck said, on July 19, 2007 at 5:13 pm


    I read about the two years wait too in the Australian liberal media. We have to wait and see if that would indeed be the case. If they really do drag their feet for more than an acceptable period, then India must necessarily intervene. We are not at that point yet.

    If it does drag on for too long, India must approach Australia via the correct channel and demand to see the “classified evidence”, after all we too are part of the fight against terror. Further action would depend on how the Australians respond to that, and our own judgement about the strength of that evidence.

    We have lot of diplomatic options. If they really do imprison Haneef for too long without sharing the confidential evidence with our intel, then we can take any number of reciprocal actions, such as refusing to play cricket or whatever it is that connects the Aussies with us. I will be the first to blog about it when we get there.

    Regarding immigration, here was NDTVs Nidhi Razdan final question in an interview to the Australian Consul. (My phrases)

    Now, will this event have an adverse impact on your countries immigration laws towards Indias, will it get tougher to get a visa !!


  14. Robs Place said, on July 20, 2007 at 12:53 am

    […] It seems like you’re new here, so you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!Reality Check India reflects on the Haneef case – on the issues of immigration and sovereignty. No TagsPopularity: 1% […]

  15. Observer said, on July 20, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Hmm, looks like there is another Observer (with a little o) on this comment section. I am the original Observer (tambram Observer), and I happen to agree with RC. While the little observer has a point, I think this case is not the same as the infamous David Hicks case, assuming that is the hidden inference that the little observer is trying to draw from this fiasco. Haneef is not being held in a Gitmo equivalent. So let the legal case proceed and the Aussies are at liberty to use all legal means to ensure they have time to prosecute this person based on the evidence so far.

  16. […] Haneef asks for Australian citizenship Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on the August 6th, 2007 This further reaffirms the point I made in my earlier post about Immigration and Indians. […]

  17. inquisitive said, on August 26, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    what actions do u think the aussie government would have taken if a citizen of their country was stuck in a situation similar to haneef’s…will it just sit with their hands on the table and wait for the decision???..the basic point is…in the name of ‘anti-terrorism’ actions and factless, stereotypical assumptions, a person cannot be tagged a criminal or a terrorist.

  18. Australia visa said, on February 11, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    International students who are unable to meet the new requirements for a permanent skilled visa will have an opportunity to apply for an 18 month Skilled-Graduate (subclass 485) to build on their skills and work experience. This visa will have unrestricted work rights.

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