MUZAFFARABAD: Indian authorities on Wednesday shattered hopes of a Muzaffarabad-born girl to be reunited with her family by sending her back from the Attari-Wagah border for a second time without citing any reason, a rights activist said.

Kubra Gillani, 27, who has been stuck in India-held Kashmir since November after the dissolution of her marriage to a former fighter, arrived in New Delhi from Srinagar on April 1 to collect the requisite documents from the Pakistan High Commission for the visit.

Earlier, on Feb 27, the foreign ministry had detailed the Pakistani Mission in Delhi to take up the matter of her repatriation with the Indian authorities concerned and share the update with the ministry on an urgent basis.

Kubra Gillani reached Attari at about 10am but Indian authorities stopped her from entering Pakistan

Attention of the foreign ministry towards this case in particular and that of many other similar cases in general was drawn by human rights activist Ansar Burney, who also involved offices of President Dr Arif Alvi and AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider in the issue.

On April 1, the Pakistani Mission wrote to India’s immigration officer and deputy commissioner of customs at Attari (Amritsar) that Ms Gillani would be travelling to Pakistan on April 3 and that they should facilitate her exit via the Attari border.

Ms Gillani reached Attari at about 10am on Wednesday but Indian authorities disallowed her crossing and instead sent her back in a move reminiscent of a similar treatment to her in the past.

In a voice message to Mr Burney from Attari she is heard saying: “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 [and] where should I go now.”

Talking to Dawn, Mr Burney condemned the conduct of Indian authorities and said Ms Gillani was Kashmiri by birth and she wanted to return from one part of Kashmir to the other.

“However, instead of assisting a poor girl, the Indian authorities are not only compounding her miseries, but are also deriving pleasure from their inhumanity.”

He said Ms Gillani possessed a valid [Pakistani] passport and other requisite documents issued by the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi and there was no justification for Indian authorities to send her back from the Attari border.

“Their act is very painful and condemnable.”

In mid-February, Mr Burney visited Parveen Kazmi, widowed mother of Ms Gillani, in her rented residence near here, and assured her that he would make all possible efforts to bring her daughter and other girls like her back to their homes.

Ever since both mother and daughter were in constant contact with the rights activist.

On March 27, Ms Gillani had told her mother through a WhatsApp message that she would cross the border within next couple of days and that she should receive her in Lahore.

An elated mother had visited the local press club after the message and urged correspondents in a choked voice to convey her appeal to everybody who was somebody in Pakistan to ensure that the much-awaited repatriation of her daughter was not impeded this time round under any pretext.

However, on Wednesday her hopes were shattered.

Ms Gillani married Mohammad Altaf, a resident of Kokernag area of held Kashmir, in Muzaffarabad in March 2010 at the age of 19.

Mr Altaf was among tens of hundreds of young Kashmiris who had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and taken refuge in AJK after 1990.

In 2014, the couple moved to India-held Kashmir via Nepal under the so-called ‘rehabilitation policy’ announced by the India-held Kashmir government for “former militants and their families”.

However, Mr Altaf divorced Ms Gillani on Nov 30 last year, allegedly for not bearing any child during eight years of their marriage.

Her plight came to the fore early this year after she uploaded a video message on social media, in which she revealed that there were more than 200 other women from AJK facing a situation like hers.

Recently, when the Pakistan government returned captured Indian pilot Abhinandan as a goodwill gesture, Ms Gillani uploaded another video message urging Prime Minister Imran Khan to seek repatriation of stranded women from India in return for his act of kindness.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2019