Indian authorities on Wednesday refused, reportedly without a valid reason, to let a Muzaffarabad woman return to Pakistan despite being notified in advance that she would be crossing over from the Attari-Wagah border.
Kubra Gillani, 27, has been stuck in occupied Kashmir since November 2018 — since the dissolution of her marriage with a local.
On Feb 27, the Foreign Ministry had detailed the Pakistani mission in Delhi to take up the matter of her repatriation with the concerned Indian authorities and share the update with the ministry on an urgent basis.
The Foreign Ministry's attention had been drawn to the case by rights activist Ansar Burney, who had also called the issue to notice at the offices of President Arif Alvi and AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider.
Gillani had subsequently arrived in New Delhi from Srinagar on April 1 to collect her travel documents from the Pakistan High Commission for the crossing.
The same day, the Pakistan mission wrote to India’s immigration officer and the deputy commissioner customs at Attari (Amritsar) to inform them that Gillani will be travelling to Pakistan on April 3, and that they should facilitate her exit via the Attari border.
Gillani had reached Attari at about 10am on Wednesday, but the Indian authorities disallowed her from crossing and instead sent her back.
In a voice message to Burney from Attari, Gillani said: “Sir, they [Indians] have sent me back. Nothing has happened. Sir I tried my best but they did not listen to me. Sir you tell me what should I do where should I go now.”
Burney condemned the conduct of the Indian authorities, noting that Gillani was a Kashmiri by birth and wanted to return from one part of Kashmir to the other.
"However, instead of assisting a desolate girl, Indian authorities are not only compounding her misery but also deriving pleasure from their inhumanity,” he said.
He said Gillani possessed a valid passport and other requisite documents issued by the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi and there was therefore no justification for the Indian authorities to send her back from the Attari border.
“Their act is very painful and condemnable.”
“I was planning to celebrate her return but they [Indian authorities] have dashed my hopes,” Parveen Kazmi, Gillani's mother, told our correspondent.
“My daughter is by herself in an unfamiliar place. How will she be able to manage the situation? Where will she arrange the money to undertake another trip [to Attari]?” she asked.
Burney said he would prepare a petition on behalf of Gillani to help her seek justice from courts in occupied Kashmir or India.
“Rest assured, we will not leave her and others like her unattended and stranded,” he said.
Marriage across the border
Gillani had married Altaf Rather, a resident of the Kokernag area of held Kashmir, in Muzaffarabad in March 2010 at the age of 19.
Rather was among hundreds of young Kashmiris who had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and taken refuge in AJK after 1990.
In 2014, the couple had moved to India-held Kashmir (IHK) via Nepal under the so called ‘rehabilitation policy’ announced by the occupied Kashmir government for “former militants and their families.”
Rather had divorced Gillani on November 30 last year.
Her ordeal was noticed earlier this year after she uploaded a video message on social media, wherein she revealed that there were more than 200 other women from AJK facing a situation similar to hers.
Recently, when the government had returned captured Indian pilot Abhinandan as a goodwill gesture, Gillani had uploaded another video message urging Prime Minister Imran Khan to seek repatriation of stranded women from India in return for his act of kindness.