10-year-old Pak girl leaves jail for first time

10-year-old Pak girl leaves jail for first time

For the very first time, Henna knows what world outside prison feels like.

The 10-year-old Pakistani national has been living in a jail in Amritsar since her birth. For a decade, her life revolved around the unforgiving confines of the jail for no fault of hers.

Today, as she walked her way towards the Attari-Wagah border in Punjab to go to Pakistan, she prayed for good times ahead.

Her mother Fatima and her aunt Mumtaz were by her side. The two sisters were arrested on charges of drug smuggling at the Attari border in Amritsar in May 2006. Together the three had spent ten years in jail.

Fatima was pregnant when she was arrested. Fatima and Mumtaz were convicted together, and were released from jail last year.  

An Amritsar-based NGO, Humanity Club, bid farewell to the Pakistani girl on Thursday by gifting her a gold chain valued around Rs 70,000.

The pendant in the gold chain has flags of both India and Pakistan. Heena wore the pendant as she returned.

Dressed in a simple blue suit, Heena seemed to have mixed feelings about going back. She has never seen her motherland or her relatives.

Despite their jail term ending last year, the two sisters were overstaying in the jail transit camp awaiting clearances and documentation for release.

The court, in its judgment, had also ordered the two sisters to pay a fine of Rs 2 lakh each.

Failure to pay the fine would have attracted another two years in jail. The sisters did not have the money to pay and so were overstaying their jail term. Help from their family back home in Pakistan was not forthcoming. The Humanity Club, in a rare gesture, came forward and paid Rs 4 lakh to help Heena and her family out of jail.

The confusion over Heena's nationality also added to the complexities.

Heena was born Indian, but is a Pakistani national. The issue was settled when officials of the Pakistan High Commission visited the jail in Amritsar this August and claimed her as a Pakistani national.

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