Woman and her Daughter born in Jammu Prison
Parveen Kousar symbolizes tragedy of two
Mubin, 6, is chattering non-stop for the past two days. Her big
beautiful eyes, her infectious smile and her innocent queries has charmed
everybody in the household of advocate A.K. Sawhney where this India-born
girl has been putting up with her Pakistani mother Parveeen Kousar for
the past two days since their release from the Jammu District jail after
seven long years.
Born and brought up in various jails in the border district of Rajouri
situated near the Line of Control (LoC) and then in Jammu, Mubin cannot
stop wondering as to why she is not living in a small dark dingy cell for
the past two days. For since she was born, the young girl hasn’t seen anything
but the four walls of the District Jail, Jammu also known as Amphalla Jail
located in the heart of Old Jammu City.
A dream shines in her eyes as she tastes freedom for the first time
in her six years, refuses to go back to the Jail when asked if she would
like to go there. “Jail Ganda Hota hai” (Jail is a dirty place) ,replies
the girl flatly and start laughing.…..Yeh Kya Hai (What is this?), Who
Kya hai(what is that?)……To her endless queries, the Sawhney family replies
with much poise and patience for the young girl has become too attached
to the family including the two sons of advocate Sawhney especially Aseem,
the elder one who himself is an advocate. Infact, Aseem only had later
filed another PIL in her mother’s case for their release from the jail.
Mubin and her mother Parveen Kousar , from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir
were recently freed by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in a landmark judgement
on Thursday last when a Division Bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court
had ordered release of Parveen alias Shahnaz, a Pakistani national,
arrested in 1995 and jailed since then, and her six year old daughter born
in Jammu prison. The judgement stated that the minor was being detained
for no fault of her and she was entitled to a free life and so far as mother
is concerned, she has already endured enough punishment for the illegal
act committed. Besides ordering the release, the bench also directed the
state to pay a sum of Rs 3 lakhs as compensation to Mubin who is a minor.
Just outside the house of advocate Sawhney who has given a temporary
shelter to the mother-daughter duo, Mubin even springs more surprise to
me by saying that she would have all the toffees in the shop, she has rarely
eaten any . Hardly would anybody come to meet them in the jail during all
these seven traumatic years.
Mubin’s mother Parveen Kousar of village Abbowalla in Azad kashmir(PoK),
tehsil Kotli, Mirpur was married to Mohammad Younis of Village Ambdewalla
in tehsil Bhimber of Barnala . Parveen says she had been married only for
three months to Mohammed Yunis, when she decided she must die. Denying
that she was ill treated by her husband or her in-laws, she said she was
under tremendous depression and just wanted to end her life. Eventually,
she tried to do so.
Life was going on at its own pace when one fateful day, in her bouts
of depression, she just went to the Pandori Dariya, the river that
divides Poonch into Indian and PoK territories enters Poonch-Rajouri from
Pakistan , with the intention of committing suicide. But destiny had something
else in store for her which she too agrees. “Madam ji , Mere Naseeb Ch
Kuch Our Hi Tha,” she speaks in her Pahari-Punjabi dialect spoken in most
of the border villages of India and Pakistan. She, however, was swept to
Indian side, picked up by the security forces in Laam sector of Poonch-Rajoui
and stayed in army hospital for three days. Then she was taken for interrogation
as forces were apprehensive that she could be a Pakistani spy.
Later, after being satisfied that she wasn't, she was handed over to
the police in Poonch that registered a case under section 2/3 Ingress and
Internal Movement (Control) Ordinance. She was sent to judicial custody
for trial and eventually sentenced to 15 months in prison for entering
the country illegally. She was convicted on November 15, 1995. Later, she
was handed over to Police.
“Parveen was arrested on 6 October, 1995 inside the Indian territory
and a case registered against her under Egress and International Movement
Control Order. She was convicted on 15 November 1995 to undergo one year
imprisonment with a fine of Rupees 500. In default, she was asked to further
undergo sentence of three months and was lodged in District Jail Poonch
and thereafter shifted to Central Jail on 28 January , 1996,” informed
“Under the Passport Act, the judge could maximum give her punishement
for one year, which he did. Besides,as she could not pay a fine of Rs 500
along with this one year punishment, thus her sentence was increased to
three more months,”informed Mr Sawhney adding that except for all these
15 months in Jammu jails, here rest of the detention period was totally
illegal and state government is responsible for it.
Incidentally, during her detention, her life was to change forever.
She was raped by one Mohammed Din, a resident of Surankote village in Poonch
and Jail Warden of District Jail Poonch and gave birth to a Mubin- her
female child on 6 October, 1997. She could not muster enough courage and
tell anybody about the rape. However, informed Mr Sawhney, during the bi-
monthly health check ups of jail-inmates, the doctors found that she was
pregnant. Though her jailmates and some of the authorities suggested her
abortion, she decided against it. An investigation was launched by the
then Additional Director General of Prisons Mr Veerana Aivilli who held
the inquiry and a case got registered against the jail warden for raping
the Pakistani women. However, the warden who had in person confessed that
he had raped Parveen, later denied when his challan was produced in the
court. He is still undergoing trial in the court
Meanwhile, in a hush-hush manner, Parveen was shifted to Jammu District
Jail without the knowledge of higher ups. Here only , she gave birth to
her baby girl in Nari Nikatan, Jammu, on October 6, 1996. After she completed
her jail term, she was shifted to a Nari Naketan on January 8, 1997. She
remained there till August 8, 2000 when authorities shifted her once again
to the Jammu's Central Jail.
Though few people and organisations had been fighting for the release
of Parveen, yet nobody had seriously pursued her case the way Mr Sawhney
did. The man who also runs an English daily “Journeyline” from Jammu, and
is also a leading lawyer, was interested to know about her after ready
her story in one of the newspaper. As he started taking interest in the
developments related to her case, he was greatly moved to learn that the
lady was under illegal detention for all these years as she had already
completed the punishment for 15 months.
Immediately, he decided to take up cudgels on her behalf, went to meet
her, talked to her, asked if she would be happy if she could be out of
the jail and can make a future for her and her small daughter outside the
four walls of the jail. Parveen simply couldn’t believe that she would
be out of the prison as she had lost hope during all these years. After
acquiring her consent, Mr Sawhney who laid his hand on this extraordinary
case in April early this year, worked non stop - finding clues , conducting
this own investigations, trying to locate papers of her detention….. Ultimately
he succeeded after three months of hard work this Thursday when Parveen
and Mubin were released by the Court.
In this much publicized case of the illegal detention Pakistan occupied
Kashmir (PoK) women and her six year old minor daughter (conceived during
detention), the Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Justice
T S Doabia and Justice S K Gupta not only ordered the release of both mother
and daughter but also ordered a compensation of rupees three lakh and some
other facilities in their favour, including Government accommodation till
they are putting up in India. The direction was passed in a Public Interest
Litigation (PIL) filed by Mr A.K.Sawhney, wherein the Bench observed that
the six year old minor girl child is being detained in jail without any
authority of law and for no fault of her.
In the 19-page judgment, written by Justice Doabia for the Bench, the
Court observed that so far as the mother is concerned, she has already
been punished and her further stay in India is not of her free violation
and thereafter to keep her in custody would not be apt. "It is precisely
for this reason an order of detention (passed by the Special Secretary
to Government Home Department, whereby the lady was detained under Public
Safety Act for a period of 24 months on alleged connection with militant
activities), passed on August 3, 2001, which has been passed mechanically
and without application of mind, is accordingly quashed", the DB ordered.
While ordering the release of Shenaz, the Court directed the State to
pay a sum of rupees three lakh as compensation to be deposited in the name
of her minor daughter. The interest out of this amount would be spent on
the welfare of the minor, the DB said, while ordering that the State would
be at liberty to recover this amount from Din Mohammed, Jail Warden, if
he is ultimately found to be the person responsible for the illegal act
of impregnating her. " Otherwise, as the State is equally liable for the
illegal act of its servant, the State is burdened with the damages", the
Regarding their stay, the bench couristing of Justice TS Doabia and
Justice SK Gupta directed that the minor be allowed to stay in India for
as long as she herself wants to and till she is accepted by the Pakistani
authorities. For their accommodation, it was directed that an accomodation
be made available in an area meant for police or jail staff, so that the
authorities could remain in constant touch with them, to take care
of their welfare. This will take care of the interest of the State as also
the welfare of the minor, both of which are of paramount importance, the
Parveen Kousar alias Shehnaz symbolises the tragedy that two halves
of Kashmir endure since partition.
“As the Indian Parliament, as per its resolution of 1994 , has unanimously
decided that the Pak-occupied-Kashmir is also ours and Indian would try
to get it back, and besides the Jammu and Kashmir government also always
reiterates that PoK is a part of Jammu and Kashmir, asserts Mr Sawhney,
then what was the reason behind the callousness on the part of the state
government in this particular case.
“If your are talking about taking PoK areas back and resettling the
people of PoK to Jammu and Kashmir again, then why couldn’t you resettle
or rehabilitate a young lady who is just 32 and has spent seven springs
of her life in dark dingly walls of prison,” questions Sawhney. What really
pains this sensitive lawyer who got her released from the jail is also
the fact that not a single women’s organizations ( Jammu has plenty of
them) or human rights groups could come to her help even after she was
released.from the Jail.
Even as three days have past since her release from jail, not a single
NGO has approached her. Immediately after their release as Mubin and her
mother had nowhere to go (Court has directed to grant her compensation
within 15 days including the house), Mr Sawhney had to bring her home with
the consent of her wife who is equally understanding.
“Are they (state government) waiting that these 15 days should pass
and only then they would grant a meagre amount of Rs 3 lakh to her as compensation
for her child’s upbringing and would allot her a small house?” says an
angry Sawhney adding that the state government spent over Rs 3 lakh on
this case on the expenditure of its counsels but did not think about the
sufferings of this lady.
In these past few years, BSF tried once to send Parveen to Pakistan.
She was actually driven to Wagha but the Pakistani Rangers refused to take
her daughter saying her daughter was an Indian citizen. She was the only
one of the six Pakistanis who returned from Wagha. “Pakistanis has no problems
letting her into the country, but not her daughter Mubin who, by birth,
is an Indian citizen,” said Sawhney. Ironically, as she was not accepted
by Pakistan along with her Indian-born daughter, the then DIG Jammu wrote
to SHO R.S.Pura to arrest her under Public Safety Act, in contradiction
to its previous charges. She was again arrested and kept in jail till recently.
Interestingly, she has no contact with her family on the other side of
the LoC. They used to send her letters initially, but all communications
stopped one day. She has not been getting any mail from her Saudi Arabia-based
brother, Mohammed Yousuf, whom she had earlier sent tape-recorded messages.
But she wants to go once to her native place, meet her maternal family
and return back to Jammu.
Meanwhile, a case stands registered under section 376 RPC against Mohammed
Din, Jail Warden in Nowshehra court of Rajouri district. The trial is on.
There was some delay as some revision petition came to be filed in the
High Court. The proceedings arouse because a need was felt to have DNA
test of the accused Jail Warden so that the relationship with the minor
could be determined. Recently, the court has directed that Mubin and Din
be tested for their DNA to establish their parentage. Parveen wants Din
to accept the fatherhood of her daughter. Sources said that he is ready
to do so but wants Parveen to drop rape case against him so he can save