Indian national Uzma Ahmed, who had claimed she was forced to marry a Pakistani man and was later allowed to return to India, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for their help as she recounted her ordeal at a press conference in New Delhi today.
She thanked the government of India, particularly External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for making her return possible and making her realize “the value of my life as an Indian citizen”.
“I am proud to be an Indian citizen. Sushma madam would call me every day to say we are fighting for you, you are our daughter, you are India’s daughter,” she said, recounting the days she spent at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
Uzma travelled to Lahore from Islamabad and was accompanied by Indian Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh. She stayed in Pakistan for 25 days. Near the Wagah border she was escorted by Pakistani security personnel. She prostrated and kissed the ground as soon as she entered Indian territory.
Sources said Uzma had gone to meet Tahir and had no immediate plans to get married. Uzma had taken refuge at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad because she felt threatened, and wanted to return to her country of birth.
She had appealed to a court in Pakistan on May 12, alleging that Tahir Ali had married her at gunpoint. In the days after their marriage, he had harassed and intimidated her and taken away her travel papers to force her to stay, she told the court.
Requesting the court to allow her to return to India urgently, Uzma said that she had been “terribly beaten… tortured physically and mentally and forced to sign the “Nikahnama” by Ali. Her husband Ali rejected the allegations and said, “she is still my wife. Neither she has asked for divorce nor I have divorced her.”
She also told the court that her daughter from first marriage in India suffered from thalassemia ,a blood disorder characterised by abnormal hemoglobin production.
Islamabad High Court on Wednesday ruled in her favour and allowed her to return to India. The court also returned her the immigration papers which she said was taken away by Ali, who had submitted the documents after being told by the court to do so.
The high court ordered that Uzma can go back to her country and the case will be processed in her absence.She had taken refuge at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad because she felt threatened, and wanted to return to her country of birth.
“It’s easy to enter Pakistan. But it’s nearly impossible to leave. Pakistan is a death trap. I’ve seen women who go there after arranged marriages. They’re miserable and living in terrible circumstances. There’re two, three, even four wives in every house,” a visibly emotional Uzma said at a press conference on Thursday.
“They could have sold me or used me in a risky operation,” she said about a family in Buner, Pakistan. Uzma said she was not the only woman duped into marrying a man from Buner.
“There may be lots of girls in Buner. Buner people are mostly in Malaysia and they get girls from Malaysia. It is a dangerous area. You hear gunshots everyday. Every (man) has two wives there. I don’t want this to happen with everyone,” she claimed.
What went wrong between Uzma and Tahir’s love story is still a mystery. Both, who were married previously, apparently met in Malaysia and became friends. Tahir is father of four children and Uzma has a daughter who is struggling with thalassaemia.
In her early 20s, Uzma talked about the torture, harassment and domestic violence meted out to her by her husband Tahir Ali, even as she accused him of forcing her into marrying him in Pakistan on May 3.
“They have tortured me in many ways, threatened to kidnap my daughter. So I agreed to marry him to save my daughter. He used to beat me up. Because of my daughter I signed it, they scared me so much that I signed,” said Uzma at the joint press conference in the presence of Sushma Swaraj.
Meanwhile, Sushma Swaraj sought to give credit to Pakistan’s foreign and home ministry along with lawyer Shahnawaz Noon, who she said fought her case ‘like a father’. She said despite tensions between the two countries, the Pakistan foreign office and the home ministry played a key role in her return.
“Uzma is here also because of co-operations of Pakistan’s foreign and home ministries. I thank lawyer Shahnawaz Noon who fought her case like a father,” said Swaraj.