CHANDIGARH: Finally, after eleven years two sisters from Pakistan who were arrested on charges of drug smuggling went back home via the Attari border post on Thursday, taking the India-born daughter of one of them.
Mumtaz, her pregnant sister Fatima and their mother Rashida Bibi were arrested on May 8, 2006 at the Attari railway station as they were going to meet a relative in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. Rashida and her daughters were sentenced to ten years imprisonment and fined Rs 4 lakh on charges of carrying drugs. A baby, named Heema, was born to Fatima in the Amritsar jail.
Rashida Bibi died in jail in 2008. In August this year Heena was conferred Pakistani nationality when Pakistan High Commission official Fauzia Manzoor visited the jail.
Fatima and Mumtaz's sentence was over in 2015 but they could not pay the fine of Rs 4 lakh. Upon release, they were lodged in a transit camp in the jail.
In September this year, the sisters' lawyer Navjot Kaur Chabba approached the Prime Minister's Office seeking their release. A Batala-based NGO Sarbat Da Bhala Humanity Club arranged their penalty money in April.
Before passing through the Atari checkpoint, the sisters said they had mixed feelings while going home as they had lost their mother in jail. Fatima thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for expediting their release and lawyer Chabba for fighting their case for free. "I am happy to be reunite with my family after almost a decade," she said.
Mumtaz said they were framed in a false drug case.