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ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry on Saturday green-lighted the repatriation of a woman and her daughter who have been languishing in a jail in India-held Kashmir for around five years.

Robina, who claims to be a native of Hyderabad in Sindh, supposedly went to New Delhi along with her husband and four-month-old daughter in 2012. While in India, her husband disappeared with her passport, identification papers and all the money, leaving behind Robina and her daughter.

According to media reports, locals took pity on the helpless woman and gave her enough money to travel to the border crossing at Wagah. However, since she did not have identity papers, she was not allowed to return to the country.

Nisar orders interior ministry to bring Robina to Pakistan on ‘humanitarian grounds’

After being turned away at Attari, Robina was advised to try and cross over into Pakistan from India-held Kashmir, where she was arrested by security forces in Nov 2012.

Her plight was brought to light by human rights activist and lawyer Mir Shafaqat, who met her by accident while visiting the Kot Bhalwal jail in 2014.

In 2014, an Indian court ordered Robina’s deportation, but it could not be carried out. Indian authorities had informed the court that the Pakistani High Commission had not verified her nationality and since then Robina has been in limbo.

At the beginning of this year, media reports on the plight of Robina attracted attention of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who directed the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports to verify her nationality within 48 hours. But, this was not possible on the basis of the information available.

Sources say that none of Robina’s family members were available at the address provided by her.

They said Robina’s mother and father might have passed away and her other relatives could not be traced from the Nadra database.

The interior minister then directed the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi to urge Indian government to extend consular access to Robina and obtain from her further details about her relatives in Pakistan.

But with little progress made over the next two months, the interior minister finally decided to allow the repatriation of Robina and her daughter as a special case, taking into account the agony that the woman and the little girl had undergone.

The minister on Saturday ordered the authorities concerned to make arrangements for her expeditious repatriation on humanitarian grounds.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2017