Visiting Indian woman says she was married ‘at gunpoint’

Published May 9, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Uzma being produced before a judicial magistrate.—Online
ISLAMABAD: Uzma being produced before a judicial magistrate.—Online

ISLAMABAD / BUNER: An Indian woman, who supposedly went missing after a visit to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, claimed before a magistrate on Monday that she was “physically and mentally tortured” and forced to marry her Pakistani husband at “gunpoint”.

But the marriage registrar who solemnised the couple’s union a few days ago said that the woman consented to the marriage and affixed her thumb impression on the nikahnama in his presence.

Uzma, who is currently residing at the Indian High Commission, filed a complaint before Judicial Magistrate Syed Haider Shah, alleging that after her forced marriage, her husband Tahir Ali and his relatives made her do household chores from morning to evening.

She also alleged that Tahir had sexually assaulted her.

Registrar says Uzma consented to marry Buner man in his presence

According to the complaint, the two met when Tahir was in Malaysia. “We met there and became friend[s]. I stayed in Malaysia for approximately two months and used to meet him whenever he called me.”

“He was soft spoken and… used to speak to me in English. I thought he was from a good family,” she said in her complaint.

The two remained in frequent contact even after she went back to India, Uzma claimed, adding that later, Tahir invited her to visit Pakistan to meet his family.

“He sent me a sponsor letter and I got visa from the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi,” she stated.

She entered Pakistan through the Wagha border crossing, where Ali came to receive her, she said, alleging that at the time, he advised her to take a medicine, supposedly for motion sickness as they would be driving through the mountains. She claimed that the medicine rendered her unconscious and she was unable to “see the journey”.

When she awoke, she found herself in a “strange village with strange people”, the complaint said.

“Tahir’s family did not know Hindi, I was unable to understand what was happening. That night, Tahir sexually assaulted and tortured me and threatened to kill me if I did not sign the nikahnama the next day.”

Uzma told the court that Tahir and his relatives were armed. “The next day, they brought me to a dirty and strange house. They took my signature on the nikahnama at gunpoint,” the complaint alleged.

“Later at night, [I came to know] that Tahir was already married and has a wife and four children,” the complaint said.

In order to escape, Uzma claimed she told Ali her brother had sent them some money via the Indian High Commission, and both of them came to Islamabad.

In the complaint, she maintained that Ali snatched her travel documents outside the high commission, and that she refused to go back to his village in Buner.

According to the complaint, Uzma wants to go return to India and is prepared to live inside the Indian High Commission until then.

She said she only wanted the court to recover her immigration sheet from Ali.

After recording her statement, the magistrate adjourned the hearing until May 11, when the court will record witnesses’ statements.

Consented to marry

Humayun Khan, the marriage registrar who is also chairman of the local village council Ghazi Khan, told Dawn that the couple wed of their own free will.

The ceremony was held in Khan’s office and a video recording was also made. The recording, which has been circulating on social media websites, shows Khan performing the ceremony. The couple is present, as is another man, identified as Tahir’s maternal uncle Noor Ali Khan, who is filming the ceremony.

In the video, when the registrar asks her whether she accepts the marriage, Uzma can be seen nodding in agreement.

Khan told Dawn that he entered “a Haj trip” in the dowry column after obtaining Uzma’s consent, adding that the groom’s father had told her she could return to India at any time if she was not willing to marry Ali.

He said that Uzma told him that she was happy and ready to sign the nikahnama. “After this, the nikah was solemnised [by affixing the couple’s] thumb impressions,” he said.

In a media statement, Ali called Uzma “my honour” and claimed he would fight for her at every platform, calling on the prime minister, foreign minister, human rights activists and all Pakistanis to stand with him.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2017



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