Pak sisters along with Indian born daughter crossed Attari border to Pakistan after spending 11 years in jail

November 02, 2017 07:28 PM

Amritsar:  Their prayers were answered after 11 long years as the two Pakistani sisters, along with the India-born daughter of one of them, left for Pakistan via the Attari border on Thursday afternoon.

The sisters, who were arrested at the Attari railway station in 2006 for carrying drugs, were released from Amritsar jail in the morning.

Fatima and Mumtaz, along with mother Rashida Bibi, were arrested on May 8, 2006, when they were on their way to Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh to meet their maternal uncles.

The three women were sentenced to 10 years and slapped a fine of Rs 4 lakh. Fatima, who was pregnant at the time, gave birth to Heena in jail the same year. Rashida Bibi died of ill health in 2008. Heena had been staying in jail with her mother and aunt.

Local lawyer Navjot Kaur Chabba fought the legal battle for them and even approached the PMO in September this year.

The three had to stay put in the jail transit camp despite having completed the sentence in November 2015 as they could not cough up the hefty fine amount. Chabba arranged the money through Batala-based NGO, Sarbat Da Bhala Humanity Club, on April 7 this year. Despite that it took seven months for the Union Home and External Affairs ministries to clear their release.

Pakistan High Commission counsellor Fauzia Manzoor visited Amritsar in August this year and conferred Pakistani nationality on Heena.

Fatima comes from Gujranwala whereas Mumtaz, who is unmarried, is a resident of Sikanderabad.

As they left Amritsar for Attari, an elated Heena said, “I love India where I was born and received my primary education. I want to become a doctor. I am excited at the prospect of meeting my father, brother and sisters for the first time. If you ask me my nationality, I would say humanity.”

Though Mumtaz showed traces of resentment against the Indian authorities for “implicating them in a false case”, Fatima seemed to have made peace with the situation. Fatima thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for expediting their release and Chabba for tirelessly fighting their case, that too without charging them anything. “Let bygones be bygones. I am happy to be reuniting with my family after more than a decade,” she said.

And their lawyer was on cloud nine. “It is a true ‘Bandi Chhor Divas’ for me as I tried so hard to get things going. I am so happy to have won this particular fight,” she signed off.

And as they were given an emotional farewell here, the two elder women had mixed feelings on their return journey--they did lose their mother in jail, but had the satisfaction of a new entry into the family in the 11-year-old Heena. (From The Tribune)


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