The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Grit unites wife and widow
- Fighter Firdous smiles finally

Bangalore, July 27: Today, Firdous Arshiya came out holding her baby. The battle almost won, the face that breathed defiance had softened into a smile.

“I am happy the truth has come out. Haneef has been proved innocent,” she told the crowd of journalists outside her home, whose number seemed bigger than on any other day.

With shiny eyes she turned to look at baby Hania, who kicked her mother playfully, lifting a tiny leg from under the pink suit.

Just the family scene that Mohammed Haneef says he had been hurrying home to savour when he was detained in Brisbane. If all goes well, the doctor can expect to be united soon with his wife and month-old daughter after the terror case against him collapsed in an Australian court today.

“I’m sure we’ll be seeing him in two-three days,” Firdous said giving Hania a nudge, as if expecting the little one to second her.

Then the 25-year-old housewife, who had for nearly a month waged a courageous, lone battle against the Australian government, reached for her grey-and-white dupatta and wiped a tear.

Canberra, whose police have withdrawn the charges after admitting their mistake, has said the reinstatement of Haneef’s cancelled visa is under consideration but won’t happen in a while.

But the Indian foreign ministry, which has prodded the John Howard government to re-issue the visa, said Haneef would be back anyway — either with a normal visa like everybody else or as a deportee.

That’s enough to bring the fire back in Firdous’s eyes. Her husband should not be deported, she insists. “He should be sent from there with the same honour he was welcomed with.”

But in her moment of victory, she was gracious. Told by an Australian journalist about the calls for the resignation of the police chief who handled the case, she said, “It’s their country. I don’t want to comment.”

Would she demand an apology from the Australian authorities for the “pain” she, Haneef and their families had suffered' “It’s okay,” she shrugged, indicating she had put the past behind her.

Can she possibly ever want Haneef to return to work in Australia and accompany him there' She wouldn’t rule that out either.

Firdous received the big news from her cousin Imran Siddiqui, who is in Australia to help Haneef. She spoke a brief while with Haneef, too, and then dialled her mother-in-law.

Firdous didn’t forget to thank Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the foreign ministry and the Indian media. And she again had a special word for the human rights activists in Australia who had all along campaigned for her husband.

It was the obvious question that stumped her in the end.

How’s she getting ready to welcome her husband back' “I don’t know,” she said and this time she blushed.

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