SRINAGAR: The two teenager sisters who inadvertently crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and reached Poonch were escaping from a crisis at home, reports in appearing in Pakistani media said. However post-repatriation, they have maintained that they were handled well with respect and dignity.
After a night-long stay in Mendhar (Poonch), they were repatriated the other day at the Tetrinot – Chankan Da Bagh Crossing Point. They carried with them, some gifts as a goodwill gesture, a rare sight between the rival sides for a very long time now.
Army in Poonch said they ensured that the two girls do not feel harmed. After initial investigations, they were handed over to the police as the civil administration started getting in touch with the administration on the other side.
Identified as Laiba Zubair, 17, and her younger sister Sana Zubair, the two sisters belonged to Abbaspur sub division (Forward Kahuta Tehsil) that falls on the other side of Poonch in Rawlakote. This small town is not more than 5 km away from the Line of Control.
Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that the two sisters were daughters of the known butcher of Abbaspur who died of cardiac arrest almost si months back. “Ever since, his family, comprising two wives and eight children, was facing a lot of hardship,” the newspaper reported. “It was being assumed that both girls had left their home on Saturday evening after a domestic squabble. However, in a “disappearance report” lodged by their brother at the Abbaspur Police Station on Saturday, no such thing was mentioned.”
“The girls later in statement to police revealed that their father passed away hardly 15 days ago and their brother forcibly wanted to get them married, which they don’t want,” Jammu newspaper Daily Excelsior reported. “That is why they have crossed over to the Indian side. They further claimed that they do not want to go back to Pakistan.”
Humzah, the brother of the two girls was quoted by the Voice of America (Urdu) saying that his sisters left home because of domestic tensions that day on Saturday afternoon. “After we failed to trace them we registered a police case,” he said. Mohammad Tariq, the uncle of the two girls said they were in shock till the reports emerged from Poonch side that they have crossed the LoC.
It quoted local reporter Zuklfiqar Ahmad saying that the village in which the two girls are living is located actually on the LoC. “When they left home they sat on the banks of the stream. When it was dark and they started for him, they inadvertently crossed the LoC,” he has said.
The local community in the Abbaspur belt have stated on the social media that this was the shortest possible time in which the girls returned home after accidentally crossing the line. Even Labia has said on record that they were treated well. “Initially we thought we will be killed but they took good care of us and gave us food,” she is saying on a video that has been recorded after their repatriation. This is the same thing that they had said before being repatriated.
The repatriation took place on Sunday. The two girls were accompanied by the army men, the police and the civil administration after a proper flag meeting was fixed at the Tetrinote crossing. This crossing was one of the many humane windows that Delhi and Islamabad had opened to facilitate the meetings and travel of the divided families. It stands closed now.
From the Pakistani side according to Pakistan media, the Assistant Commissioners from Hajira and Abbaspur were present. The girls were medically examined at the crossing point and later permitted to go to Abasspur police station and eventually home.
“In fact, theirs is a heart-breaking story […]. After the death of their father, the family was left destitute and that would trigger squabbles at their small home almost daily,” Abbaspur Assistant Commissioner Syed Tasawwar Hussain Kazmi who conducted an inquiry into the circumstances that led to the incident was quoted by Dawn saying. “It’s because of this miserable situation they took this step.”