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Uncertainty looms over Pak women married in India

Bengaluru: Karnataka Police on Thursday arrested a Pakistani national for illegally staying in Uttara Kannada district’s Bhatkal
By Arun Dev
PUBLISHED ON JUN 12, 2021 12:28 AM IST

Bengaluru: Karnataka Police on Thursday arrested a Pakistani national for illegally staying in Uttara Kannada district’s Bhatkal. According to police, she is married to a local and has been living in India since 2015 and was arrested following a tip-off.

The woman was identified as Khadija Mehrin, 33, who had married Mohiddin Rukkuddin from Bhatkal in 2014 in Dubai and has three children from the marriage. Shivaprakash Devaraju, Superintendent of Police, Uttara Kannada said Mehrin has been remanded in judicial custody. He said after their marriage in Dubai she entered the country illegally and has been staying at Nawayath Colony in Bhatkal.

“She had travelled on a tourist visa to India for three months in 2015 and stayed back illegally. She also obtained an Aadhaar card, a ration card, a PAN card, among others, by producing fake documents,” Devaraju said.

While Mehrin was sent to judicial custody for her illegal stay, several Pakistani women are staying in Bhatkal who have either received their citizenship or are awaiting them. Marrying women from Karachi has been a long tradition in Bhatkal.

“Before partisan, many Muslim families of Nawayath community, had business links with Karachi and in other parts of Pakistan. Once the partition happened, several families and friends were on either side of the border. Soon, to keep these relations going; the practice of marrying women from Karachi began. Most of them apply for Indian citizenship after the marriage,” said a senior officer of the state intelligence, who didn’t want to be named.

In the 1990s, however, the fate of this Muslim-majority fishing town, which stayed peaceful even after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, changed following a political murder. “The murder of a popular RSS leader Dr U Chittaranjan, who was the first MLA to be assassinated while in office, changed the town’s political climate. This murder, over a period of time, led to communal tensions and eventually led to the creation of terrorists like Yasin and Riyaz; and the rise of far-right Hindu leaders like Anant Kumar Hegde,” the officer added.

As the town’s name started getting associated with terror, the approval for citizenship of many Pakistani brides from Bhatkal became difficult.

“I’m not certain about the exact numbers, but there are around 70 applications for citizenship are pending since 1992 with the home ministry’s office in Bengaluru. As per our records, there are 16 women of Pakistan nationality living in Bhatkal town of Uttara Kannada district on long-term visas. Of them, 14 are married to Indians and most of their children are born in India,” the officer added.

For the families the wait for citizenship is difficult. Javeed (name changed), whose wife is Pakistani says that due to the visa restrictions travelling within the country itself is difficult. “We have to take permission from the police if we have to travel. We have been going to multiple offices and multiple police verifications have been done, but her request for citizenship hasn’t been processed yet,” he said.

But the police say that the recent developments over the years have made the process even more difficult. The Pakistani wife of a suspected terror operative Syed Ismail Afaq, who is now in jail for supplying explosive material that Indian Mujahideen (IM) used in bomb strikes across India, was deported on October 7, 2019.

“Her name was Arsala Abeer and then she had crossed the one-month deadline that the Union home ministry had set for her to return to her home country. The ministry of external affairs rejected her visa renewal application in August after her husband’s arrest. Arsala was living in India after periodically renewing her two-year visa after she married Afaq in 2006. This made our renewal and process for citizenship requests even more strict,” the officer added.

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