Mohammed Sharif, 26, is expected to return to his hometown of Karachi early next month after his paperwork is completed, said police officer Pramod Kumar Pandey on Monday.

 

Sharif, speaking from Lucknow, the capital of India's Uttar Pradesh state, said that when he spoke to his mother in Pakistan recently "she could not believe that I was alive".

 

Sharif told police he left for Saudi Arabia in 1990 at age 10 to work with his stepbrother Abdul Ghafoor, who later accused him of raping a family member.

 

He was sentenced to death by a Saudi court and news travelled to Pakistan that Sharif had been executed in Jedda.

 

Bureaucracy

 

Sharif was cleared of the rape charge after an appeal but was later jailed for possessing a fake passport.

 

When his prison term ended in 1994, Sharif said he was deported by Saudi authorities to India because he could not prove his Pakistani citizenship and all he possessed was a forged Indian passport.

 

"I told my mother I am your son and I am still alive"

Mohammed Sharif

He landed in Lucknow to look for work, but was arrested soon after when police discovered the forged passport.

 

Police sent him to a juvenile home where he received primary school education and trained to be a carpenter.

 

In 2000 he was moved to Lucknow's main prison and in 2004 a court ordered his release and repatriation.

 

However, the Pakistani high commission refused to recognise Sharif as a Pakistani national, Pandey said.

 

"They said the address given by Sharif was incorrect," Pandey added.

 

Emotional call home

 

The police station then became Sharif's home. He lives with the officers in their residential quarters, eats with them and is free to come and go as he pleases. Officer Pandey has even given him a mobile phone.

 

"Now the Pakistani government has recognised Sharif as its national... he will be sent to Pakistan soon"

Pramod Kumar Pandey,
Indian police officer

But he desperately wanted to go home, so a local resident he befriended who has family in Karachi travelled there to meet Sharif's mother and inform her that her son was alive. She then phoned him in India.

 

He said he wept "like a child" upon hearing her voice.

 

"I told my mother I am your son and I am still alive," he said.

 

Sharif's mother then arranged the documentation for his repatriation.

 

"Now the Pakistani government has recognised Sharif as its national and has started the repatriation process," Pandey said.

 

"He will be sent to Pakistan soon."