An Indian woman who went missing for the past 20 years has been found in Pakistan through a video shared on social media.
Hamida Banu left India in 2002 after a recruitment agency promised her a job as a chef in Dubai. But he claims he was tricked and smuggled into Pakistan.
Banu’s family in Mumbai, India, told the BBC Marathi Service that they had been searching for him for two decades.
Finally one from India and another from Pakistan helped to find him.
Neighboring India and Pakistan have a tense relationship. As a result, it is often difficult for Indians and Pakistanis to travel across the border. In Banu’s case, he stumbled because of the economic situation and not knowing how to get out.
But over the years, he longed to see his children. Finally, in July this year, Waliullah Maroof, a social media activist, interviewed Banu and uploaded the video online.
Kalpan Shaikh, an Indian journalist living in Mumbai, shared the video with his followers on social media. This helped Banu’s family find him.
The duo later helped set up a video call between Banu and her daughter Yasmin Shaikh.
“How are you? Do you recognize me? Where have you been all these years?,” Yasmin asks emotionally in the video call.
“Don’t ask me where I was and how I was. I am so sorry to see you all. I am not here willingly. I have no choice,” Banu replied.
In an interview with Maroof, Banu took care of the family financially to raise her four children in India after her husband’s death. Earlier, he worked as a chef in Doha, Qatar, Dubai and Saudi Arabia without any problems.
In 2002, he approached a recruitment agent to arrange a job for him in Dubai. The woman asked for Rs 20,000.
But instead of Dubai, Banu says in the video that she was taken to Hyderabad in Pakistan. There, he says, he was confined to a house for three months.
A few years later, she married a man who lived in Karachi. But he died of the Covid-19 pandemic. Bhanu now lives with her stepson.
Yasmin said that while working in other places, her mother would often call and talk to them. But in 2002, when he went abroad, they waited months for Banu’s call.
Finally, they approached the agent who arranged Banu’s travel.
“He told us that our mother was fine and didn’t want to talk to us. We kept asking questions about our mother. Then he [ஏஜென்ட்] He disappeared suddenly,” adds Yasmin.
Banu How was he discovered?
Maroof, who heads a local mosque in Karachi, says he first met Banu 15 years ago.
Then, Maruf says, he came to the area and opened a small shop.
“I’ve been seeing him since childhood. He’s always depressed,” she says.
Over the years, Maroof has been helping women abducted from Bangladesh to Pakistan find their families through her social media accounts.
After Banu’s second husband died, she often asked Maruf’s mother to ask him to help her.
Maruf sympathized with him. But he hesitated because of the complicated relations between the countries.
“My friends advised me to stay away from India. They said it would land me in trouble. But, I felt so bad and helped that I couldn’t take it anymore,” he said. He also claims that he has not received any money for these efforts.
In that interview, Banu mentioned her Mumbai address and the names of her children.
When Shaikh shared the video, Yasmin’s son Aman saw it.
The 18-year-old has never met his grandmother. Because he was born only after Banu disappeared. But Yasmin suddenly recognized Banu.
Maroof says that Indian embassy officials in Pakistan contacted him and asked Banu to submit an application with details of the case. This will enable them to start their repatriation procedures. But he didn’t know how long it would last.
Meanwhile, Banu is counting the days until she returns home. She says she has almost given up hope of seeing her children again.
Emotions are the same across borders, says Yasmin.
“We waited 20 years for him. Now I’m so happy. I couldn’t stop laughing since I saw that video. It’s a strange feeling.”
BBC Tamil on Social Media:
How did Mumbai woman find her missing mother Hamida Banu after 20 years in Pakistan
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