An Indian woman, who spent 17 long years in Pakistan against her will, finally boarded a plane to India on Friday to be reunited with her family in Andhra Pradesh.
Yellamilli Kejiamani was brought to Pakistan in 1990 by a man named Riaz from Kuwait, where both of them were then working.
“Riaz, a resident of Lahore, snatched everything she had and burnt her Indian passport. He tortured her before finally throwing her out of his house six months after she reached Pakistan,” Rao Abid Hamid, an official of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told the Dawn newspaper.
The next 10 years were very hard for Kejiamani. “I had lost my senses. Then I met Muhammad Amin, a cook, who took me to his house and provided me shelter. But soon my presence in his house started causing trouble for him,” she said.
Amin's wife did not want to keep Kejiamani at their home and one of the neighbours filed a case against Amin for keeping a woman in his house without legal permission.
Amin then took Kejiamani to his native village in Sahiwal district and arranged a marriage “on paper” with her after giving her the Muslim name Ayesha.
He helped Kejiamani, a Christian from Sakhinetialli Mandal village in Andhra Pradesh, obtain a national identity card and a Pakistani passport.
Kejiamani also succeeded in contacting her family in India and one of her two sons working in Qatar. One of her cousins in Britain came to know about her whereabouts in Pakistan, and his contacts in Lahore initiated efforts to help Kejiamani reunite with her family.
The woman's case finally reached the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), which wrote to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on September 24.
Rights activists said they believed there could probably be other Indian women being held against their will after being brought to Pakistan following marriages in the Middle East. But Kejiamani's was the first case where a woman had contacted the authorities to seek help to go back home.