An Indian national, who was allegedly forced to marry a Pakistani man at gun point, returned home on Thursday. Uzma’s return was made possible after the Islamabad High Court took her plea into cognizance and ordered police to escort her to the Wagah Border. Shortly after her return, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj welcomed her back home, calling her ‘India’s daughter’. In a press conference held in New Delhi today, an emotional Uzma fought back her tears as she narrated her ordeal in Pakistan. She was quoted by news agency ANI as saying: “It’s easy to go to Pakistan, but tough to return. Pakistan is a ‘well of death’. Even those who go there after arrange marriage are crying.”
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.
She said ‘Buner’, the area where Tahir, the Pakistani man who married her at gunpoint, took her after giving her sleeping pills, was like a “Taliban-controlled” region. Uzma said had she stayed there for a few more days she would have been dead. She broke down several times while recalling the horror in front of the national media.
Uzma – Welcome home India’s daughter. I am sorry for all that you have gone through.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) May 25, 2017
Crediting the Indian government and Sushma Swaraj for securing her release from Pakistan, Uzma said: “I credit my release to Sushma Swaraj. I am an adopted child, I don’t have a mother or sister. I feel proud to be an Indian citizen. Sushma used to call me asking me not to fear as I am India’s daughter. The government has done so much for me. Had it been someone else in my condition there, they would not have got out. Had I stayed there for two more days, I would have been dead.”
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.
Earlier today, accompanied by Indian mission officials, Uzma crossed the Wagah border near Amritsar. “I heaved a sigh of relief as soon as she crossed the Wagah border,” Swaraj told reporters here. On May 12, she had petitioned the Islamabad High Court requesting it to allow her to return to India urgently as her daughter from her first marriage in India suffered from thalassemia.