B’deshi national’s plea to media, rights bodies for his safety

Kathmandu, February 5:

Daniel D-Silva, who is a Bangladeshi by origin and has been in Kathmandu since December 12, 1997, has appealed to the international human rights agencies, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), to keep him from falling prey to the Islamic extremists. “If I am forcefully made to return to Bangladesh, the Islamic extremists

will kill me. Even my parents, who are conservative Sunni muslims, are against me,” said Daniel, who converted to Christianity in 1996. Fearing for his life, Daniel had to leave Bangladesh the same year.

The UNHCR credited Daniel with the status of an “asylum seeker” on July 21, 2005, a day after his release from a Nepali prison, and has been examining his status since. He was arrested for overstaying in Nepal and was asked to pay a fine of $ 5,640, or face imprisonment.

“I was released from the prison on the occasion of the King’s birthday for my good behaviour,” said Daniel, who now has a Christian name after his conversion. Daniel doesn’t consider himself a Bangladeshi citizen and prefers to go by his Christian name.

Daniel availed his contact number and urged the media and human rights organisations to help him get refugee status and migrate to a country where he will be safe.

“I wrote a letter to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair while in jail in Nepal. Hence the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) thinks I am a British spy and will kill me on my return to Bangladesh,” Daniel said to reporters gathered in front of the Bangladeshi Embassy in Kathmandu. He also believes that Muslim extremists have issued a “fatwa” against him.

According to Daniel, he is identified as an “intellectual autonomous” in a secret list of the Bangladeshi government. “Being an intellectual autonomous means I am an antagonist. I am in a cold war with the Bangladeshi officials here,” Daniel said.

Daniel said late King Birendra had been sympathetic to him when he approached the palace seeking asylum in Nepal.