Mumbai mom meets children in Mozambique, kicks off battle to get them back

May 18, 2017, 14:27 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

Court fast tracks Navi Mumbai mother's case; children have been in the African country since August 2016

(From left) Sara, Naeem and Zayed with mother Somiya Basar in Mozambique
(From left) Sara, Naeem and Zayed with mother Somiya Basar in Mozambique

On May 14, when the whole world was celebrating Mother's Day, Navi Mumbai mum Somiya Yunus Basar was fighting for her children's custody at a court in Mozambique. Her three children were smuggled to the African country by their father and Somiya's former husband citizen Abdul Gaffar Abdul Majid Tarmamahomed, in August 2016. Last week, after waiting for over nine months, Somiya had a joyful, if short-lived reunion with her children.

"I don't know anyone here and I was very scared, but all my fears went away when I saw my children. My elder son got so emotional on seeing me that he started crying," Basar told mid-day from Mozambique.

Second meeting soon
After mid-day first reported on Somiya's plight on January 28, Dubai-based lawyer Farhat Ali Khan came forward to help her. "She's a brave woman who travelled across continents to meet her kids. It was such a memorable moment when the children saw Somiya. Their meeting lasted for only 20-25 minutes, as the father's brother, who was accompanying the children, decided to leave. But we are trying to arrange a second meeting for her," said Farhat.

Somiya's children are aged 11, 10 and 3. Her eldest, Naeem, is a special needs child and requires constant attention. The children are in the care of a maid at Abdul's house in Mozambique.

Considering the risky nature of her visit alone, Rudra Gaurav Shresth, the director of the High Commission of India to Mozambique provided full support and has also arranged for her security till she stays in Mozambique. "The entire office of the High Commission of India became emotionally focused to make this reunion possible," added Farhat.

Somiya is now preparing to take back her children's custody. A case for the same was filed on Monday. She also met a judge on Tuesday, after which a notice for a speedy trial has been issued on grounds of urgency. "The judge has taken the matter very seriously and is likely to give Somiya full access to the children," said Farhat.

Somiya and Abdul ended their marriage in 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa after a turbulent few years that were rife with alleged harassment and domestic violence. Somiya was granted the custody of the children, while Abdul was given visitation rights with permission to take them out within the city.

On August 19, 2016, he took them out, promising to return them the next day. After he failed to turn up, the South African Police Service (SAPS) issued an arrest warrant against him, and found that he had crossed over into Mozambique from the porous border of Lebombo.

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