LAHORE/NEW DELHI – Two Pakistani sisters, who spent around 10 years in India jail, were handed over to Pakistani authorities at Attari- Wagah border on Thursday. A daughter of one of the sisters born in captivity was also accompanying them.
On Wednesday, the Indian government informed Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi that a total of 13 Pakistani prisoners including the sisters would be repatriated to the neighbouring country.
Fatima and Mumtaz were arrested along with their mother for allegedly smuggling narcotics into India in 2006. Their mother died in the prison in 2008.
The sisters were accompanied by Fatima’s 11-year-old daughter, Hina. Fatima was pregnant when she was taken into custody and gave birth to her daughter Hina in Amritsar jail.
Hina told Times of India that she wanted to be a doctor so she could help people. “My mother, aunt and grandmother were innocent and had to spend more than ten years in jail for no fault of theirs, it could be someone’s mistake. If I become an officer, the chances are that I could also do some mistake but If I am a doctor then I will only be helping people so I want to be a doctor,” Hina said.
The 11-year-old added that she had learnt Punjabi, English and Mathematics in India and that she would continue her studies in Pakistan.
Rashida along with her daughters Fatima and Mumtaz was arrested on May 8, 2006, at Attari international border after they were caught smuggling narcotics into India. The three of them were booked under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and sentenced to 10-and-a half years in jail.
The court had also slapped a fine of 0.2 Indian rupees each and in the case of non-payment of fine both of them had to serve another two years of imprisonment.
Rashida collapsed in in Amritsar Central Security jail on May 21, 2008, on her way to the court and died. Her mortal remains were handed over to Pakistan in June 2008. Their term ended in November 2016. A Batala based NGO Humanity Club deposited INR0.4 million slapped as fine on their behalf on April 2017.
Advocate Navjot Kaur Chabba who fought their case said that both Fatima and Mumtaz along with the 11-year-old will be handed over to Pakistan via Attari border on Thursday.
Besides them, nine Pakistani fishermen were also be handed over to Pakistani authorities at the border.
Pakistan on October 29, handed over 68 Indian fishermen to the Indian officials at Wagah border as a good will gesture to its neighbour.
The Indian fishermen also thanked the Pakistani authorities and applauded jail’s officials to allow them to celebrate Diwali, a Hindu festival, in jail.
Indian and Pakistani fishermen are frequently detained for illegal fishing since the Arabian Sea border is not clearly defined and many boats lack the technology to fix their precise location.
Fishermen often languish in jail even after serving their terms, as poor diplomatic ties between the two neighbours mean fulfilling bureaucratic requirements can take a long time.
In July, Pakistan released 78 Indian fishermen held for trespassing into its territorial waters.