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Indian woman who spent 18 years in Pakistani jail returns to find her land usurped

The 600sq ft plot of land that is encroached upon is the same one that helped the police establish Hasina Begum's identity as an Indian citizen

Hasina Begum had spent 18 years in a Pakistani jail after losing her passport ("India-Pakistan Flags" by theglobalpanorama is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. )

“It feels like I’m in paradise.” That’s what Hasina Begum had said when asked what returning to India is like after spending 18 years in a Pakistani jail. And now, less than a week after her return, she’s fighting to get a 600sq foot plot back, a piece of land whose records had helped the police ascertain her identity as an Indian citizen.

Begum, 65, was born in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Eighteen years ago, she’d travelled to Pakistan to meet her relatives in Lahore. But soon after reaching, she lost her passport and her belongings, the ANI reported. She’d also lost the address of her relatives, so the Pakistani police lodged her in jail.

Back in India, a search began to trace the antecedents of Hasina Begum. As per the ANI report, Begum’s name had got deleted from the voter records in her native city of Aurangabad and her husband’s native city of Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Finally, the Aurangabad police fished out registration papers of a 600 sq ft plot that she had purchased 30 years ago. It helped them establish her identity as an Indian and facilitate her return.

Begum returned to India on 26 January. A police team welcomed her at Aurangabad railway station with a bouquet. “I went through a lot of hardships but now I am at peace,” she told the reporters. “It feels like I’m in paradise.”

On Wednesday, the Times of India reported that Begum had now learnt that the land she’d bought decades ago was encroached upon—someone had already built a house at the place. “I fought the Pakistan government for 18 years,” she was quoted saying. “I will also fight the land sharks and get back my plot.”

The local police has assured their support in the matter. “We will coordinate with the Aurangabad municipal commissioner as well as the district collector to ensure that the encroachment is removed,” Nikhil Gupta, commissioner of police at Auragabad, told TOI.

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