For Firdous Arshiya, the wait for kheer and shukrana namaz (thanks-giving prayers on Friday) ended when her cousin Imran Ahmed Siddiqui called early this morning to break the news that her husband Dr Mohamed Haneef would head home in a couple of days.
On his return, the couple will head for Mecca for another round of thanks-giving prayers. "I am extremely happy that he has been proved innocent," was the 23-year-old engineering graduate but she played a dead bat to questions on whether Dr Haneef would return to work at the Gold Coast Hospital, Southport, or migrate elsewhere.
Firdous, however, did not let emotions cloud her stand that her husband must come home without the stigma of a terrorist. "We are waiting for a bridging visa because I don't want him to get deported. I want him to come back in regular manner. I expect him to be back home in two or three days," she told reporters outside the home of her father Ashafaq Ahmed in Bangalore (South).
The Australian authorities had cancelled Haneef's visa on July 16.
In addition, she thanked the Indian government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Ministry of External Affairs for their intervention to help secure the release of her husband. "I am extremely happy that finally the day has come when the truth has come out. I thank the government, the prime minister and the Ministry of Eternal Affairs. This would not have happened without their support," she said.
She got in touch with Peter Russo, her husband's lawyer. "He was very happy that they (Australian Federal Police) have decided to drop the charges. He has assured me that my husband will be home in two or three days. I did not get a chance to talk to my husband," Firdous said.
The news of her husband's release brought so much cheer that she obliged the media for pictures along with her month-old daughter Haniya. "It's their business," was all that she would say about reports that Haneef's detention and related issues could have political fallout in Australia.
At Haneef's modest apartment in Bangalore (East), his brother Shoaib, mother Qurat-ul-ain and sister Subbaiah Tabbasum were overcome with joy about the Australian police's decision to drop all charges against the doctor. "I cannot express our joy… We are waiting to welcome him. We thank the Indian government and all human rights groups who supported him all these days," Tabbasum told reporters.
Haneef's father-in-law Ashafaq Ahmed and his younger brother Shoaib offered thanks-giving prayers at a mosque near their home.
The doctor was under detention since July 2, held first at the Brisbane Airport, when he was leaving for India on a one-way ticket. He was held in connection with failed terror attacks at London and Glasgow last month.
Firdous married Haneef in November 2005, and lived with him in Britain and in Australia before returning to Bangalore in March 2007 to spend the last months of her pregnancy with her parents.
Cousins Haneef and Sabeel passed out of BR Ambedkar Medical College, Bangalore, the former in 2002 and the latter a year later and shared accommodation in Liverpool, Britain.