NEWS DESK: Pakistan and India may be two separate countries but we have a common relationship – that of humanity. In one of the greatest goodwill gestures an Indian could extend to her Pakistani counterparts, lawyer Navjyot Kaur Chabba worked day and night to ensure the safe release of a Pakistani woman, her child born in an Amritsar jail and sister.
Fatima, her sister Mumtaz and her 11-year-old daughter Hina entered Pakistan via the Attari border on Thursday after completing their prison sentence in an Indian jail. For Hina, it was the first time that she visited Pakistan as she was born in prison.
According to Times of India, she wore a designer dress with her hands decorated with mehndi when stepping on Pakistani soil for the first time. Hina, along with her mother Fatima and aunt Mumtaz, was handed over to Pakistan authorities along with 10 other Pakistani prisoners after completion of their sentence on Thursday.
The Pakistan Rangers extended a warm welcome to Hina and gave her a flag of Pakistan. Hina’s father, Saiful Rehman, embraced his daughter for the first time. The man never saw his daughter before as she was born and brought up in the Indian prison.
Fatima, Mumtaz and their mother, Rashida, were arrested on May 8, 2006, at Attari border on smuggling charges.
According to their defence lawyer Navjyot Kaur Chabba, the three women were booked under Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act and were sentenced to 10 years each in jail. However, Rashida Begum passed away in the subsequent years, after which the body was handed over to Pakistan.
According to a report published by The Indian Express, Hina learnt to read Hindi, Punjabi and English at the prison. She is a fan of Bollywood stars Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan. Chabba said that Hina wants to become a police officer when she grows up.
Fatima and Mumtaz had completed their 10-year jail sentence in November 2016. After that, they had to pay a fine of Rs2 lakh each, failing which they would have had to undergo imprisonment of another two years each. With the help of their lawyer Chabba, a Batala-based NGO came forward to support the Pakistani women and paid the Rs4 lakh.
While Fatima and Mumtaz’s desire to pay homage at the Golden Temple remained unfulfilled, Saiful, Fatima’s husband, told Times of India that he would take them to Data Darbar in Lahore. “Data Ganj Bakhsh (Muslim spiritualist Abul Hassan Ali Hujwiri) has miraculous powers and his Darbar is the oldest. We all will go there first to seek his blessings before beginning a new life,” Saiful said. He also thanked the NGO, Humanity Club, for paying the fine for his wife and sister-in-law.
Saiful said he is poor and can hardly make both ends meet otherwise he would have paid the fine to get his wife and sister-in-law released.
On Thursday, Navtej Singh of Humanity Club along with other members also came to Attari to bid farewell to the three Pakistani nationals. Singh gifted Hina a gold chain with Indian and Pakistan flags encapsulated in the pendant. “We want Hina to be the peace ambassador and we wish she visits India on a valid visa soon,” he said.
After her release, Fatima conveyed gratitude to Indian PM Narendra Modi for personally supervising and speeding up the trial.
Story first published: 7th November 2017