An Indian woman who said she was forced to marry a Pakistani at gunpoint returned to India on Thursday (25) after a court ordered her release.
Uzma Ahmad was reunited with her family at the Wagah border crossing near Amritsar in northern Punjab state before heading to New Delhi where she called on foreign minister Sushma Swaraj.
The case became a national rallying cry against arch-rival Pakistan with Swaraj calling Ahmad “India’s daughter” and leaving no stone unturned for her release.
“I want to thank the foreign ministry and the home ministry of Pakistan. If Uzma is with us today, they have a role too,” Swaraj told reporters in Delhi in a rare display of amity between the foes.
Ahmad, who is in her early 20s, met Pakistani Tahir Ali in Malaysia, according to Indian media.
She told the Islamabad high court that Ali forced her to marry him at gunpoint on May 3 when she was visiting Pakistan.
Ahmad has made headlines in India since making her plea to the court on May 12 to be allowed to return.
Her allegations emerged as tensions mounted between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region and the case of an Indian national, Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death in Pakistan on spying charges.
Ahmad had been staying at the Indian mission in Islamabad since making the accusation.
The Islamabad court ordered Ali to return the woman’s immigration documents so she could leave.
Ahmad fought back tears as she recalled Swaraj ringing to assure her everything was being done to bring her home.
“For the first time I felt as if my life too has a value,” Ahmad said after touching Swaraj’s feet, a traditional gesture of respect in India.
“I have been really lucky as there are many girls over there who are are abused and harassed but they are not able to get out.”
In 2015, a deaf and mute Indian girl returned to India after more than 10 years trapped in Pakistan.
Relations between India and Pakistan have plummeted since a deadly attack on an Indian army base in the disputed region of Kashmir in September, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed.
There have since been repeated outbreaks of cross-border firing, with both sides reporting deaths and injuries.