- The Washington Times - Monday, August 5, 2002

JAMMU, India India during the weekend released a Pakistani woman who was jailed for seven years as an illegal immigrant after she tried to commit suicide and was carried across the border by a rushing river.
Raped in an Indian jail, she gave birth to a child who was deemed an Indian citizen and barred from Pakistan, leaving her the grim choice of remaining in jail or leaving her baby and going home to face possible death for dishonoring her family.
The Indian courts acted in the case only after it was raised by human rights activist Ranjan Lakhanpal, who petitioned to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights more than four months ago.
Shahnaz Parveen Kausar, 32, from the village of Haryan in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, threw herself into the Jhelum River in 1995 to escape a husband and in-laws who regularly tormented her for failing to bear a child.
Rather than drown as she had expected, she was carried by the river's swift current into Indian territory, where border guards rescued her and turned her over to Indian police.
She was convicted of entering India without proper documents and sentenced to one year in jail. She also spent three months jailed in the border town of Poonch, where she was raped by a prison guard, resulting in the birth of a daughter, Mobin.
When her prison term ended in 1997, India tried to send Mrs. Kausar and her daughter back to Pakistan. But Pakistani immigration officials said they would accept only the mother, not the daughter, whom they considered an Indian citizen.
"Technically she is an illegal entrant and had been booked under the Enemies Ordinance Act," a strict Indian law which is usually applied against Pakistani nationals, said S.S. Ali, director-general of prisons in Kashmir.
"So we had to take her back into custody again. Since the daughter is too small, we have allowed her to stay with the mother. Mobin could not be handed over to the father because he is charged with raping the mother."
The man suspected of fathering Mobin, Mohammad Din, has been suspended from the prison service and is free on bail while being tried in a court in Jammu.
The child has been allowed to leave the jail escorted by a constable each day to attend classes at a neighborhood school at the expense of the prison department.
But a source inside the prison said Mrs. Kausar fears that she will be "punished for the existence of Mobin" if she returns to Pakistan, where hundreds of women become victims of "honor killings" every year.
Mr. Lakhanpal, a Jammu-based human rights activist, says he petitioned the U.N. Human Rights Commission to get involved after Pakistani authorities refused for the third time last year to allow the mother and daughter back into the country.
"The situation of Shahnaz and Mobin has gotten worse simply because of India and Pakistan being on the warpath," he said in an interview.
The two countries have had about 1 million troops massed on their border for months.
"Since [Mrs. Kausers] trauma and trouble increased with the misdeed committed by an Indian citizen, India should seriously consider granting her Indian citizenship," Mr. Lakhanpal said last week.
Mrs. Kausar was finally freed on Saturday on the orders of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, which formally awarded Indian citizenship to Mobin on the grounds that she was conceived and born in the country.
"We also direct that as the minor cannot stay without her mother and, the mother being the legal guardian, therefore the consequential order of releasing [Mrs. Kausar] is also being passed," the court said.
It ordered the government to pay a sum of about $6,160 in compensation for the suffering of the mother and her daughter and to provide them housing somewhere in the state.
The money is to be deposited in Mobin's name.
But Mrs. Kausar was not granted citizenship, leaving her fate in doubt when Mobin reaches adulthood. The court also said the identity of Mobin's father was uncertain.

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