Girl (6) returns to mother after abduction by father
Published 28/12/2012 | 15:33
A SIX-YEAR-OLD girl who was abducted by her father and taken to Pakistan three years ago is due to be reunited with her mother in England tonight.
Atiya Anjum-Wilkinson vanished in November 2009 after going to stay with her father, Razwan Ali Anjum.
The former insurance salesman said he was taking Atiya to Southport.
Instead he took her to Lahore, Pakistan, and told Gemma Wilkinson - Atiya's mother - that she was "never going to see Atiya again".
Anjum is currently serving a prison sentence in the UK for refusing to reveal his daughter's whereabouts despite a court order.
But Greater Manchester Police confirmed that Atiya had been located in Pakistan and she is due to arrive back in the UK later tonight.
It is understood that the youngster is returning to England on a Pakistan International Airlines flight from Islamabad and is due to arrive at Manchester Airport after 7pm.
Just last month Ms Wilkinson, 32, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, launched a fresh appeal for information on Atiya's whereabouts.
Anjum was handed a fourth consecutive jail term by a High Court judge in April after he refused to reveal where his daughter was.
Mr Justice Moor imposed a 12-month prison sentence after he found him in contempt of a High Court order instructing him to disclose Atiya's whereabouts.
He said Anjum, who is in his late 20s, would not be eligible for release until he had served at least six months.
Judges have previously imposed jail terms of two years, 12 months and another 12 months in the hope that Anjum would provide information.
They have re-jailed Anjum as each sentence neared its end.
Ms Wilkinson, a former charity worker, took legal action in an attempt to force Anjum to reveal the crucial details.
Anjum, who represented himself at the latest court hearing, indicated that Atiya was in Pakistan or Iran but said he did not know her exact whereabouts.
Mr Justice Moor said he was sure Anjum was lying.
The judge said: "I am certain that he is in contempt. It is absolutely absurd for him to suggest that he does not know the whereabouts of his daughter and he cannot contact her. I am certain he is lying."
Another judge has previously said the case was "as bad a case of child abduction as I have encountered".
Police published a computer-generated image of what Atiya might look like now a day before her sixth birthday in November.
Speaking ahead of her daughter's birthday, Ms Wilkinson said: "It's been an absolute nightmare. As to her whereabouts, we know nothing. We've had no contact. I'm worrying every day, every single day. Everything is affected by it. When I close my eyes I see her.
"I say goodnight to her every night before bed. I pray she's OK. We don't have any proof that she's OK, there is no proof she is still alive. It's been discussed that she could have been sold, but I don't want to believe it.
"She was so funny. She was a little bundle of joy. She loved her lip gloss and handbags - as soon as she got hold of my make-up bag, everything in it was hers. We just want her home."
Ms Wilkinson's "on-off" relationship with Anjum ended in 2008.
"He's not prepared to back down - he's not prepared to work with the police," she said at the time.
"He's enjoying playing his controlling mind games. It's just sick.
"Razwan is refusing to say where she is, who she's with, and he won't say anything other than 'She's in Iran'.
"Originally she was in Pakistan. He won't give the actual location of where she is.
"He's doing this because he has control over me. He knew the relationship was non-existent."
She added: "It's ongoing, it's been three years of trauma and nightmares. I can't sleep at night. I just want to know she's OK, she's being looked after.
"We haven't celebrated her birthday since she went missing but I've bought her presents each year - they are waiting for her to open when she comes home.
"I haven't been in touch with Madeleine McCann's parents but they are an inspiration. It's something I would consider in the future.
"I had no reason to believe that she was at any risk. There had been a standard routine, there hadn't been any problems with the arrangements."
Detective Superintendent Phil Owen, from Greater Manchester Police's Child Protection Unit, said: "This has been a long and hard investigation which has thankfully culminated in Atiya being on her way home.
"Throughout the three years of her disappearance, her mother Gemma has understandably been sick with worry. She had not heard from her beloved daughter and did not know whether she would ever set eyes upon her again.
"However, Gemma, alongside ourselves and a variety of organisations, were determined we would not give up and remained dedicated to finding her. Thanks to this determination and the help from the Pakistani authorities, we have the outcome we were hoping for."
MEP Sajjad Karim said: "I was delighted to be able to assist GMP to bring this case to a satisfactory fruition. Two Greater Manchester Police officers have provided continued support for this case for over three years but the real credit goes to Atiya's mum, Gemma, who never gave up.
"I am also very grateful to the Pakistani authorities who did the work on the ground to locate Atiya."