February 17th, 2022
By Hamid Riaz
The ministry of interior has initiated the process of the return of a Pakistani woman who is currently being detained in India after the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS) formally requested the government to look into the matter. The woman, Sameera Abdul Rehman, and her three-year-old daughter Sana Fatima had been awaiting deportation from India since July 2021.
Sameera, a Qatar-born Pakistani, married an Indian national, Muhammad Shihab, in early 2016. Later that year Sameera, along with two of her family friends, travelled to India to unite with her husband. Instead on May 24th, 2017, she along with her husband and friends were arrested by the Banglore (Indian) authorities under charges of violating India’s Foreigners Act. Later that year she was forced to give birth to her first daughter and only daughter in an Indian jail.
After many years of seemingly unending litigation and having been abandoned by her husband during the proceedings Sameera decided to plead guilty to all the charges filed against her. In July 2021 an Indian court ordered her immediate deportation to Pakistan as she had already served her sentence during the course of the trial.
The deportation could not be initiated until the Pakistani authorities ‘verified’ Sameera’s Pakistani nationality. NADRA in Pakistan failed to do so despite being informed of the case more than three months ago.
Upon being contacted the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell sprung into action and wrote a letter to the authorities, detailing Sameera’s predicament. In a direct response to this correspondence, the Ministry of Interior has finally “verified” Sameera’s nationality paving the way for her return home.
So far, Sameera and her minor daughter have spent seven extra months in India since they were declared fit for deportation. During this time the duo had been in contact with the Pakistani High Commissioner in India but for months the foreign office failed to finalize a procedure that it was under obligation to complete in two to five days. It was only after the intervention of the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell and the ensuing media campaign that the FO and other concerned departments came into action, paving the way for Sameera’s return home.