The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fatima is back home
- Effort set in motion during last year's Revival Tour bears fruit

Calcutta: The process of repatriating Fatima Bibi to India, set in motion towards the end of last year's Revival Tour of Pakistan, has borne fruit: The 50-something woman is back in home town Mumbai.

In Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail from July 1999, Fatima got released over a fortnight ago. In effect, a few days before Inzamam-ul Haq's team arrived in India, starting yet another Revival Tour this side of the divide.

Her plight was first reported by The Telegraph ('Will Fatima Bibi's five-year wait at Kot Lakhpat end with the series') during last April's Rawalpindi Test.

The initiative to have her sent home, it may be recalled, was taken by Amitabh Choudhary (IPS) and the then additional home commissioner of Punjab, Rao Iftikhar Khan.

That the illiterate woman, booked for entering Pakistan without a visa, desperately needed help was conveyed by Khan to Choudhary in the lead-up to that series-deciding Test.

The duo struck a rapport during the U-19 Asia Cup in late 2003, when the IPS man went to Lahore as the India manager.

While Choudhary, currently the Jharkhand State Cricket Association president, requested 'friends' in New Delhi's corridors of power 'to do the needful,' Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir is also learnt to have got into the act.

'It's confirmed Fatima is back' One feels nice,' remarked a happy Choudhary, late on Saturday.

Fatima's troubles began with the 1992 riots, after the Babri Masjid's demolition, when she lost her husband in the country's commercial hub.

Having to raise three daughters, she left to work as a domestic help in the UAE. Driven by circumstances, she married a widower who tricked her ' even going to the extent of somehow putting her on a flight to Islamabad instead of Mumbai.

Any Indian national who (for whatever reason) arrives in Pakistan without a visa gets into big trouble. An exception wasn't made for Fatima.

Thanks to destiny, Khan chanced upon her and, while renewing his friendship with Choudhary, asked him to do his bit.

The gains from a Revival Tour can actually be many'

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