Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal intervention has led to the rescue of an Indian Muslim woman who had been held captive and tortured in Somalia by her in-laws since July 2018. The 31-year-old woman, Afreen Begum, was rescued from her captivity at Mogadishu in Somalia on March 28. She and her three daughters will land at the Mumbai airport on April 2.
As India doesn’t have an embassy in Somalia, ground operatives of Indian High Commission in Nairobi conducted the rescue operation with the help from police in Somalia.
However, according to the Somalian law, a mother cannot travel out of the country with children without permission of the kids’ father. It is at that point PM Modi intervened and spoke to the Somalian authorities and ensured safe and immediate return of Afreen Begum to her home in Hyderabad.
Her parents live in Basharath Nagar in Hyderabad.
Afreen Begum’s story unfolded in 2013 after she married one Mohamed Hussein Duale. At that time, Duale was working in a private firm in Hyderabad.
Though a Canadian passport holder, Duale’s entire family lived in Somalia. Duale and Afreen lived in Hyderabad till July 2018 when Duale expressed his desire to visit his family in Somalia with Afreen and their three daughters. The couple left India on July 4 last year.
For the next eight months, Afreen’s family could not contact her. They would get occasional WhatsApp calls that Afreen made with the help of a woman in the neighborhood where she lived in Somalia.
Eventually, in mid-February 2019, Afreen’s father Syed Gafoor Ali, who is an auto-rickshaw driver, approached the External Affairs Ministry (EAM), which alerted the Indian High Commission in Nairobi-nearly 2,000 km away from where Afreen had been held captive. The search to spot Afreen and her location began immediately.
“It was a blind case. We did not have her house address in Somalia. Mogadishu is a place where bomb blasts occur almost every 10-15 days. Besides, the family of Afreen’s husband was kind of warlord over there. It was a very difficult operation and we had to get all the paperwork ready before her actual rescue. It was impossible for us to keep her in Somalia for long,” an operative involved in Afreen’s rescue operation said.
After the rescue, Afreen could not be moved out of the country because the Somalian immigration officials were not allowing her to take her three daughters.
Finally, after the intervention of PMO, the four were allowed to fly out of Somalia at 2.40 pm IST by Ethiopian Airlines from Mogadishu to Addis Ababa. From there, they would take a flight to Mumbai at 10.50 pm and will land in Hyderabad on April 2 morning.
“We are anxiously waiting for Afreen to land in India. Only then we will be able to smile. We are extremely grateful to the External Affairs Ministry and especially the prime minister. It was because of this concerted effort that we would be able to see Afreen and her daughters again,” Afreen’s brother Syed Raheem Ali said.