| Shahnaz with her five-year-old daughter Moubin. (PTI)
Jammu, Jan. 15: When L.K. Advani’s Operation Flushout rolls across the country in April in search of illegal immigrants, it must pause before knocking on the doors of a government residential quarter in Jammu.
Inside the one-room house on the north-western fringes of the city, the enforcers of the mission would find a Pakistani woman who has been “overstaying” on Indian soil since 1995 and her five-year-old daughter born of a rape by an Indian policeman in an Indian jail.
Shahnaz Pravin Akhtar Kausar was swept across from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in 1995 when she jumped into the Jhelum after a row with her husband and in-laws.
Arrested for “illegal entry”, she was sent to prison where she was raped.
Shahnaz refused to have an abortion and gave birth to Moubin in 1997 in jail, which was the child’s home till mother and daughter were released last year. The two have since been staying at a government quarters as directed by Jammu and Kashmir High Court which freed them.
India had sought to deport Shahnaz to her home on the eve of the Agra summit but Pakistan had said she could not be accepted with her daughter who is an Indian citizen.
While releasing Shahnaz and Moubin, the high court had made it clear that “till the minor girl wants to stay in India and till she is accepted by the Pakistan authorities, she would stay with her mother in a government accommodation”.
The mother and daughter have now adapted to life in India, making ends meet on the interest accruing from the Rs 3 lakh the court ordered the government to pay Moubin. The court held that the government must pay the amount as the policeman, Mohammad Din, who raped Shahnaz was its employee. Din was subsequently dismissed from service.
Moubin is now studying in a government school here where she sings the Indian national anthem with other children.
She is ignorant about Pakistan except for the fact that her mother hails from across the border. “I love this place. I want to live here for ever,” Moubin says.
Shahnaz has started taking up jobs as a domestic help and a seamstress to supplement the income from the interest. She has been given a sewing machine by the government.
During their stay in jail, some officials had ensured that both the mother and the daughter were given primary education. The jail had also provided them clothes and household accessories.
Officials here said Shahnaz and her daughter cannot be deported until Pakistan agrees to accept them.
In a state that is said to have over 3,000 Pakistani militants, Shahnaz is the only known case of a Pakistani overstaying. “Our records show not even a single such case,” a senior official involved in detecting such cases said.