If I'm sent back to Kabul I will be killed
by Tim Healy
Campaigners are calling for a 23-year-old failed Afghani asylum-seeker to be allowed to remain in Leicester, saying he will be killed if he is deported.
Abdul Ghafar Rajabali's parents and family were murdered when he was a baby, and he entered Britain illegally as a traumatised 16-year-old in August 2006 after fleeing.
He applied for asylum but was turned down and started living rough.
He was later found destitute by the Red Cross.
Because he has extreme post-traumatic stress syndrome and a medical condition which, say campaigners, could not be treated in Afghanistan, Mr Rajabali was allowed to stay in the UK while his medical case was reviewed.
However, that permission ended last week and when he attended a routine reporting session with the immigration authorities in Loughborough on Friday, he was detained by UK Border Agency staff.
Mr Rajabali, who has converted to Christianity, was taken to Morton Hall Detention Centre, in Lincolnshire, and faces being put on a flight to Kabul at midnight on Tuesday.
The Leicester City of Sanctuary group, which has been working with Mr Rajabali, has launched an e-petition calling on Home Secretary Teresa May to stop his deportation.
It has so far been backed by more than 1,100 people.
The group said he was wrongly treated as an adult when he arrived in the UK, and was put at a disadvantage because the translator used by the UK Border Agency did not understand the dialect he spoke.
He also inadvertently missed an asylum hearing and, fearing he would be deported as a result, went under the radar of the authorities which resulted in him living on the streets.
The group said Mr Rajabali was preparing a claim for asylum "based on new evidence" when he was detained, and wants him released so the application can be heard.
Speaking from the detention centre, Mr Rajabali said: "I am scared. I cannot go back to Afghanistan, I will be killed because I am now a Christian.
"Not only will the Taliban kill me, but other religious groups too. I love England and I love Leicester. The police are very good here. They do not hit you if you ask a question."
Pam Inder, chairman of Leicester City of Sanctuary, said Mr Rajabali had "touched the hearts of everyone who knows him" in Leicester.
She said: "Abdul is an illegal immigrant, but he is a very special person. He is intelligent and kind and would be a very good addition to our society."
She said Mr Rajabali would be killed if he went back to Afghanistan, a country where he has no family does not know anyone who could help him.
A Home Office spokesperson said: "Every asylum application is carefully considered on a case by case basis.
"The UK only returns individuals if both the Home Office and the courts are satisfied they do not need our protection and have no legal basis to remain in the country.
"Mr Rajabali's case has been considered and rejected by the courts and he failed to attend an appeal hearing before an independent judge."