Indian woman force-married in Pak returns home; Sushma thanks Pak judiciary

NEW DELHI
25 May 2017

The family of an Indian woman who claimed she was forced by a Pakistani man to marry him at gunpoint today said it never thought she would be back home "this soon". The woman, identified as Uzma Ahmad, reached India this morning, crossing the Wagah Border near Amritsar from Pakistan, after being allowed to return home by the Islamabad High Court. She was accompanied by Indian Mission officials. "We did not expect that she would back this soon," Uzma's brother Wasim Ahmad, happy at the quick turn of events, told reporters here. He added that the family had to do little for her return. "We did not have to do any running around. We got a call from (External Affairs Minister) Sushma Swaraj that Uzma had contacted the Indian Mission in Islamabad and her return to the country was being facilitated," Ahmad said, expressing the family's gratitude to the Indian government. Uzma, who is in her early 20s and belongs to New Delhi, is believed to have met and fallen in love with Tahir Ali in Malaysia. She told the Islamabad High Court that Ali forced her into marrying him in Pakistan on May 3, when she was visiting that country. She petitioned the court on May 12, requesting it to allow her to return home urgently as her daughter from her first marriage in India suffered from thalassaemia -- a blood disorder characterised by abnormal haemoglobin production. The court ordered Ali to return her immigration papers which she said had been taken away from her. Ali submitted the documents, enabling her to leave Pakistan. Ahmad said it was not clear what had happened to Uzma during her Pakistan visit. "We don't know what exactly happened with her there. We will get to know the truth from her when she is back here. So far we have only been hearing from the media," he said. Minister Swaraj welcomed Uzma back home, calling her "India's daughter". "I am sorry for all that you have gone through," she tweeted. Meanwhile, amid continued tensions with Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today profusely thanked the Pakistani establishment and judiciary for facilitating Indian citizen Uzma Ahmed's return. She said though there is tension between the two neighbours, the Pakistan foreign office and the home ministry played a key role in her return. Swaraj had words of praise for Uzma's counsel Barrister Shahnawaz and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani of the Islamabad High Court. She said while the counsel treated Uzma as his child, the judge dealt with the case on humanitarian grounds and not through the prism of India-Pakistan relations as some people wanted him to. "I heaved a sigh of relief as soon as she crossed the Wagah border," Swaraj told reporters here. Uzma, a Delhi woman, who had said she was forced to marry a man at gunpoint, returned home earlier in the day. The minister also thanked officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, especially Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh.(PTI)