Indian woman 'forced to marry Pakistani' returns

Uzma on arrival in India Image copyright Ravinder Singh Robin

An Indian woman who alleges she was forced to marry a Pakistani man at gunpoint has returned to India, a day after a court in Islamabad granted her request to leave.

The woman, named only as Uzma, was escorted across the Wagah border by Indian High Commission officials.

She has accused her husband, Tahir Ali, of torturing her. He denies the allegations.

The incident comes amid increasing tension between India and Pakistan.

On Thursday, India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted, welcoming her return:

Image copyright Twitter

Pakistani security officials escorted Uzma, who is in her early 20s, to the border crossing in the morning. She arrived in Delhi later in the day.

Uzma's return comes as India and Pakistan trade accusations over violence in disputed Kashmir, territory which both countries claim.

Tensions also rose after Pakistan sentenced an Indian national, Kulbhushan Jadhav, to death on charges of spying.

On her arrival in Delhi, Uzma described Pakistan as "a death trap".

"I've seen women who go there after arranged marriages. They're miserable and living in terrible circumstances. There're two, three, even four wives in every house," she told a press conference.

"If I'd remained there for a few days more, I would have died."

Uzma met Tahir Ali in Malaysia and fell in love with him, according to reports.

She then travelled to Pakistan earlier this month where, she said, she was forced into marriage on 3 May.

View from Pakistan: By M Ilyas Khan, Islamabad

While there is enough evidence to suggest that Uzma came to Pakistan of her own accord, it remains unclear why she changed her mind.

Tahir Ali has said that his father sponsored Uzma's visa for Pakistan after the couple met in Malaysia and decided to get married.

Uzma's contention that she was married at "gunpoint" sits uneasily against the fact that she, along with Mr Ali and his relatives, had visited a district court in Buner town to get married.

The official who performed the wedding says she appeared to participate willingly in the ceremony.

Mr Ali has alleged that Indian officials at the high commission forced her to change her mind.

On 12 May, Uzma filed an appeal in the Islamabad High Court, accusing her husband of harassing and intimidating her, and taking away her travel documents to stop her from leaving Pakistan.

She told the court that he had not told her that he was a married father of four and that she had been "terribly beaten... tortured physically and mentally".

Uzma also has a five-year-old daughter from an earlier marriage. Her lawyer requested that the court should allow her to go back to India, saying her daughter was thalassaemic and needed daily blood transfusions.

Mr Ali told BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad that the charges against him were false - he said she had known about his marital status and was "disappointed" that he was not allowed to speak to her under court's supervision.

He said he was "confident" that she would get in touch with him once the dust had settled.