A 37-year-old woman from Uzbekistan, who claims to have been abducted and brought to India, is in a Bhopal jail for the last five months, oblivious to the charges against her due to the language barrier.
The accused Uzbek national, identified as Djuraeva Barno, was arrested on December 9 last year from the Misrod locality for allegedly staying in India without a valid visa and booked under Section 14 of The Foreigners Act, 1946. She is being held in the Bhopal Central Jail, and her case is under trial at the district court.
“The accused arrested by the police doesn’t know either Hindi or English. She understands only Uzbek, the language of Uzbekistan,” said Manoj Shrivastava, Barno’s counsel. “The police booked her under allegations that she doesn’t know or even understand because of the language barrier. Police have confiscated her passport too.”
The police claim that the accused entered the country illegally from Nepal and was living here from July 26, 2014. “But the reality is she herself approached the police that while in Nepal she was sedated by some anti-social elements...When she came to her senses, she found herself in Delhi,” said Srivastava.
“In Delhi, she met a man named Vikas Sarkar, a resident of Bhopal, who promised to help her and brought her to Bhopal,” he said. In Bhopal, however, she approached the police accompanied by one Chhotu Shukla.
Barno met the senior superintendent of police on December 7, 2014, but was unable to explain her plight due to the language barrier. She was asked to visit the district special branch of police, which in turn sent her to the police station in Misrod, where she was living with Vikas.
“She tried to explain her problem to the town inspector of Misrod but he booked her for staying illegally in India and presented her before the court on December 10, 2014,” said Srivastava.
The Misrod police in its report before the court said the accused only knew Russian. “The question arises how the police knew that she knew Russian when they themselves were unaware of the Russian language,” he said.
The court directed that a translator be provided to the accused, but none has been provided as yet.
“Eight hearings of the case have taken place in the court after the order to provide her an Uzbek translator. On top of that the district administration has not informed the Uzbek Embassy in Delhi about the arrest of one of their nationals in Bhopal,” said Srivastava.
Police are yet to send her passport details to Uzbek embassy
The Uzbek embassy has sought passport details from the police to confirm that Barno is a citizen of Uzbekistan. But police officials are yet to send her passport details and an official letter to inform the embassy of the arrest.
“Though we keep records of foreign nationals who come to Bhopal and stay here, in this case the letter has to be sent by Misrod police as the case is being investigated by them,” said Vivek Kumar Lal, additional superintendent of police (district special branch).
On the other hand, the Misrod town inspector said he didn’t have the authority to contact the embassy.
“It is beyond our jurisdiction to establish contact directly with the embassy of a country. It has to be made by higher authorities,” said Mukati.
In the absence of a translator, the Uzbek woman is facing trial without a clear understanding of the charges or the proceedings in the court.