02/09/2010 04:57:36
Red tape keeps Cameroon man from going home
Bureaucratic hurdles have made him the longest serving African-origin detainee in Delhi. He's also the only Cameroonian ever to be lodged at northwest Delhi's Lampur detention centre on a drug peddling charge since July 2008. However, two years after he was arrested from south Delhi's Mehrauli, 35-year-old Mofo Rene is far from feeling special. He's been on a hunger strike for the last two weeks.
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He wants to go back home to his wife and five-year-old son at the earliest.

"They picked me up in late July of that year. The case went on till I was finally acquitted in April this year. Despite that, they're keeping me here because my country doesn't have its High Commission in Delhi," Rene told HT.

A resident of the Cameroon's capital city Yaounde, Rene came to Delhi in February 2008 to pursue a course in Mass Communication.

"'It's been four months since the court of your country has found me innocent. So why are you not letting me go,' I would ask them (detention centre officials) everyday. They would say 'Wait for a few days, wait for a few days'. I was tired of this — so I went on a hunger strike. I will continue ... till they release me," he said.

The Lampur Detention Centre is run by the Delhi Police's Foreigners' Regional Registration Office in northwest Delhi. "I was 33 when they arrested me for selling drugs in south Delhi. My son is growing older day by day. He keeps asking my wife where his father is. She is running out of excuses with each passing year. I won't eat anything and live on only water — that's the least I can do for my family," said Rene.

Far from bearing a grudge against Rene, officials at the Lampur Detention Centre said they were doing all they could to help him leave.

"He is a well-mannered inmate. We have been writing to the Ministry of External Affairs repeatedly to secure his release but to no avail. If it was up to us, we would let him go tomorrow," said a senior Delhi Police officer from the facility.

They said Rene didn't possess proper travel documents.

"He doesn't have documents to establish that he travelled from Cameroon. We just need someone to submit a proof of his identity either here or at the Indian High Commission in Cameroon to secure his release," the officer added.


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