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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Brides deserted by NRIs in quest of justice

When Zuby Zaidi, a lawyer by profession, got married to a non resident Indian (NRI) on April 10, 2014, like the average Indian girl she too dreamed of ‘a happy ever after.’ The dream was shattered barely a year later, when she came to Lucknow to visit her parents and was deserted by her US-based husband and his UAE-based family, who sent her a divorce notice.

lucknow Updated: Feb 26, 2019 11:43 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
Saurabh Chauhan
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
In 2017, the highest number of complaints was received from UP (67) and in 2018 it constituted the third highest number of complaints (82)  after Punjab (93) and Delhi (85).
In 2017, the highest number of complaints was received from UP (67) and in 2018 it constituted the third highest number of complaints (82) after Punjab (93) and Delhi (85). (Representative image)
         

When Zuby Zaidi, a lawyer by profession, got married to a non resident Indian (NRI) on April 10, 2014, like the average Indian girl she too dreamed of ‘a happy ever after.’ The dream was shattered barely a year later, when she came to Lucknow to visit her parents and was deserted by her US-based husband and his UAE-based family, who sent her a divorce notice.

Since then she has been struggling for justice and also helping and mobilising other such victims.

“I dared to address my husband using his name and got slapped in return,” said Zuby, recounting the downslide in her short-lived marriage.

Her struggle for justice still continues as according to her, the Uttar Pradesh police have failed to execute a non bailable warrant (NBW) against her husband for the past two years.

But this is not the story of Zaidi alone. Almost every abandoned NRI wife from UP has a similar tale.

As per the record with the NRI cell of the National Commission for Women (NCW), the number of complaints received by the NRI cell from Uttar Pradesh has been fluctuating since 2009. However, a substantial increase has been observed in recent years. In 2017, the highest number of complaints was received from UP (67) and in 2018 it constituted the third highest number of complaints (82) after Punjab (93) and Delhi (85).

POLICE APATHY

The commission observed that one of the issues specific to complaints received from UP was police apathy in terms of refusal to register FIR and slow investigation. “An issue specific to complaints from UP is police apathy in terms of refusal to register FIR and tardy investigation adding to the problems faced by the aggrieved women,” said an NCW spokesperson.

However, victims also blame ‘mental block’ of the society for their issues. “Wives deserted by NRI husbands are not considered as victims of a crime in our society. Even cops treat it as dispute between the couple,” said Zaidi, a practising lawyer. “Besides my case, I have come across several such cases where cops are not proactive towards this issue,” she said.

DOWRY, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, DETENTION

Fly-by-night NRI grooms and in-laws do not only abandon the brides but also resort to domestic violence, illegal detention and dowry demand. In most cases relating to Uttar Pradesh, domestic violence is a common issue. A victim requesting anonymity said, “When I was asked to leave the house around midnight, I had nothing else apart from what I was wearing. Till now, I have not got my jewellery and other belongings back as my in-laws in New Delhi broke all ties after my husband abandoned me.”

In some cases, wives have been detained in the house for days. “I was detained in a room for three days without food. My husband and his family freed me after I assured them that I would not go to the police,” said another victim.

DEALING WITH DIFFERENT COUNTRIES A CHALLENGE

As per the police, many such cases involve intervention at the level of the Government of India. Since the accused are settled abroad, police say the investigation depends on the relations between the two countries. Inspector general of police (IG) law and order, Praveen Kumar said, “The process of investigating such cases is cumbersome as several agencies are involved. Still we are investigating the cases.”

In many cases, passport and other important documents of the victim are forcibly seized by the husbands. The women are slapped with an ex parte decision of a foreign court on divorce and child custody, as per a spokesperson of the NCW.

In many cases from Uttar Pradesh, women are generally not aware of the current whereabouts of their NRI husbands and face challenges in getting the legal documents served abroad. “Execution of decree passed by Indian courts is another challenge which leaves women without maintenance and support for their children,” said an official of the NRI cell.

“In some cases, it has been observed that the husband of the complainant has filed a complaint of domestic violence against her and a restraining order has been issued resulting in her alienation from her house,” said an NCW official.

CASE STUDY

Mariyam, 33, had to leave her in-laws’ house when she was 4 months pregnant. Now, mother of a four –year-old daughter, she has been running from pillar to post in quest of justice. After marriage, her husband promised to take her to Mecca where he lived but the assurance remained unfulfilled. The victim said she lived with her in-laws in Lucknow and was tortured. She said she had to leave the house in 2013, barely a year after marriage and her husband severed all ties with her. Since then, her fight for justice is on.

First Published: Feb 26, 2019 11:43 IST

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