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Knew of affair, says family of Punjab woman who converted, married in Pakistan

Family members say Kiran Bala had dropped hints that she may not be coming back.

punjab Updated: Apr 20, 2018 21:59 IST
Harpreet Kaur
Harpreet Kaur
Hindustan Times, Garhshankar (Hoshiarpur)
Kiran Bala,Sikh woman,Punjab news
File photo of Kiran Bala who got married with a man in Pakistan. (HT Photo)

Kiran Bala, the Sikh woman from Garhshankar town in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district who embraced Islam and married a Muslim man while on a pilgrimage to Pakistan, had “dropped hints” that she may not be coming back, said her family, in hindsight, on Friday. Also, as reporters contacted her on the phone and asked if she wants to talk to her children, she said she has no connection with them — “Mere koi bachche nahin (I have no children),” she said — and hung up.

The 31-year-old woman, now named Amna Bibi, was married to a mechanic, Narinder Singh, who died in a road accident in 2013, and has left behind her two sons aged 6 and 8 and a 13-year-old daughter, with whom she lived at her in-laws’ home here. She was on an April 12-21 pilgrim visa as part of a jatha (group), but went missing and later re-emerged after she had converted and married on April 16 and filed an application for visa extension to the Pakistani government citing “threat of assassination” if forced to return.

Said her sister-in-law Gisty (who goes by one name): “Before leaving for Amritsar from where she had to join the jatha, Kiran gave Rs 50 each to her three kids and my daughter as shagun which she had never done before. She even dressed up as if she was going for a wedding.” She further said that Kiran would sometimes share secrets with her “but she never let me know about her intentions”.

Kiran’s eldest daughter said that before leaving for Pakistan Kiran had asked her to “take care” of her younger siblings and “obey the grandparents”. “Mummy has taken away all her jewellery, cash and clothes. She told me that my silver anklets were in the almirah, but today, when I checked, those were also missing,” she said, asking for her name not to be printed.

‘Used FB, Bigo Live a lot’

“I knew that she was in contact with someone on social media, but she told me that the guy lives in Dubai. She even claimed to have received Rs 14,500 in her bank account from him,” Gisty said, adding that Kiran was active on Facebook as well as Bigo Live, a video-based social network. “She would remain glued to the phone day in and day out. She did not listen to anyone, not even her children,” said her late husband’s mother, Krishan Kaur.

The mother-in-law said Kiran had converted from Hinduism to Sikhism for her love marriage with Narinder. “After his death, she left for Delhi to stay with her parents but, upon our insistence, came back after five months,” she added. HT tried to contact Kiran’s paternal family over the phone but they did not respond to calls. “They have already given up on her. Before leaving for Pakistan, she went to see her ailing father in a Delhi hospital,” said Krishan Kaur.

‘Kids fear taunts’

“Even now, if we want her back it is only for the children. They repeatedly ask me when their mother will come back,” Krishan Kaur sobbed, claiming that the family tried to persuade her against going to Pakistan alone. Kiran’s daughter is embarrassed about her mother’s conversion and remarriage, according to the family. “She does not want to go to school. She says people will taunt her,” said Gisty.

The father-in-law, who is a granthi at a local gurdwara, said she had called him up from Lahore several times but never talked to her kids. “I kept defending her despite her ways, only due to the children,” he said. The family also showed Aadhaar cards and ration cards to prove that Kiran is indeed the children’s mother.

“Although we do not vouch for her integrity, we suspect that she might have been misled. We hope she has not fallen into the wrong hands. We are ready to forgive and accept her,” said Krishan Kaur, referring to the family’s theory that she is being used by Pakistan’s spy agencies.

Meanwhile, all elected and co-opted SGPC members of Hoshiarpur, Mahilpur and Garhshankar denied having recommended visa for Kiran. Surinder Singh Bhulewal Rathan, Jung Bahadur Singh, Ranjit Kaur and Charanjit Singh said they did not receive any application for the Baisakhi pilgrimage. Tarsem merely said he had submitted the application before “SGPC officials” at a gurdwara in Hoshiarpur. She had gone as part of a 700-strong group.

First Published: Apr 20, 2018 20:54 IST