Activists and civil society groups slammed the government for its double standard on women’s issue as it shows concern on Triple talaq while neglecting abandoned wives by NRIs
Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Activists and civil society groups on Sunday lashed out at the government for its sheer apathy towards NRI abandoned brides calling it one of the biggest social issues in the country. They underlined that the present government has shown hyper-active concern towards the inconsequential problem of instant talaq but it does not have any concern for the thousands of NRI abandoned brides who have been running from pillar to post to get justice.
To highlight the deserted brides’ utter plight and misery, STILL ALIVE, an NGO working for abandoned brides has organized a national conference here at the Press Club of India
Members of the NGO and victims said fraudulent marriages done by NRIs/Foreign nationals with Indian girls is a burning issue as till date lacs of cases of abandoning wives have been registered and over 50,000 cases were registered in Punjab alone.
They also slammed the government for its double standard on women’s issue.
“It is an irony of sort that the Central Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reintroduced Triple Talaq Bill with much alacrity in the very first session of the new Lok Sabha but it has failed to do anything in the last five years of its previous term on NRI desertion issue. It is still silent over this burning issue related to women belonging to all religious communities that betrays its real love for eves.”
Still Alive President Amarjeet Singh deplored that the issue has turned into an alarming proportion but the government still does not wake up from its slumber. The apathetic attitude of the government and concerned agencies has made us hopeless, he added.
“The victims knocked at the doors of concerned ministries (Home, External and Law affairs) and National Commission for Women but without any success. Furthermore, victims have not just been harassed by husbands and in-laws but by police too while reporting their cases to file FIRs. Police asked why you got married to NRIs. To file the FIR is another milestone. While making charge-sheet police cut all names (in-laws) except the husband. Then the court proceeding becomes hectic as it doesn’t know how to serve to summon. Due to hectic procedure victims get hopeless,” he added
Still Alive founder, Advo Zuby Zaidi, has highlighted the problems faced by the victims stating that the matter of desertion is reported to the concerned ministries and authorities but all efforts did go into vain.
Despite extending an invitation to the Women and Child Development (WCD), nobody came from the ministry that amply shows their apathy toward the issue, Mrs Zaidi said who herself is a victim of fraudulent marriage.
Many victims narrated that they approached several ministries but they got nothing but excuses and hollow assurances.
Last year some victims had also approached to Supreme Court pleading with the mandatory arrest of NRIs deserting their wives and harassing them for dowry etc. On this, the court had sought the response from the Centre but it did not take any concrete measure in this regard so far.
The existing laws provide ample room to NRIs to commit fraudulent marriages and run away from the country and later divorced their wives and grabbed the cash got in dowry.
Noted lawyer Mehmood Pracha said it is a big problem but it can be tackled by existing laws. He urged that all victims need to stand united and fight together.
“Our constitution is very good and flawless. If judges are not giving justice, we must highlight it and it is a problem at justice delivery level. Victims also need to approach NHRC, NMC, SCs and STs Commission.”
He said we will file a PIL in this matter and will write a letter to Chief Justice of India.
It should be mentioned here that former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had introduced “The Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indian Bill, 2019” in the last session which aims to desist NRI husbands abandoning wives without any financial aid and to file them as criminal, but the bill has lapsed.
Advo Zaidi said even if the bill becomes a law, it won’t be of any help for abandoned wives which has several loopholes and gives partial justice to the victim.
Adv Aman Usman insisted that mediation and settlement is not justice and there is need of amending Penal code.
On the occasion, some victims narrated their ordeals and tribulations:
Sunita, 34, Hisar (Haryana) said she got married in June 2016 with Amit Pawar who used to work in a private magazine company in Italy. After marriage, she lived with her in-laws only because her husband never took her with him to Italy. My in-laws tortured me and demanded dowry, she added.
Cynthia Raphael, 35, from Chennai was abandoned after 40 days of marriage in September 2013.
My husband lives in Singapore who demanded Rs 5 lacs as a dowry that was paid but when he again made the demand, I refused, she said and adding that he also lied about his education and fathered a child who is now 5 years old.
After abandoning me, my husband got married to another woman and living with her in Singapore and I am surviving on the pension of my mother who is a retired principal from a government school, she said.
Another lady Teena, 38, got married in December 2002 (Delhi) who worked and studied along with her husband in Australia but abandoned by him.
My husband got remarried, I faced domestic violence against which I had file a case in Australia in which the Australian court gave judgment in my husband’s favour. However, in India investigating officer (IO), took one year to translate my court case report from English to Hindi and judge took 6 months to summon my husband and in-laws but only in-laws came to court but my husband never came. For 10 years, I am fighting my case but no agency called my husband to present in the court,” she said.
Same is the story of Geetanjali, 32, from Delhi.
“My husband is in the merchant navy. In my case, FIR was lodged in one year. I have been fighting my case for the last five years. My husband got remarried without giving divorce to me. I lost all hope but then started to fight.”
Adv Zuby Zaidi, 32, Lucknow, also narrated her story saying she faced domestic violence by husband and in-laws when she got to know about her husband’s old marriage that was not declared before marriage. She got divorce paper from her husband in June 2015 without her consent.
“I was working as a corporate officer when I got married. My marriage was fixed by my Mamu. In most of the cases, marriages are arranged through known relatives. I did not do LLB to legal practice. But when I lost all hope, my father prodded me for doing legal practice and to fight my case”. She said she did run from pillar to post but did not get any justice.
On the helplessness of NCW, its representative Praveen said the women commission has limited power.
“We are a coordinating agency and we don’t have all powers. We can recommend to ministries and we will certainly recommend suggestions to the ministries.”
Varun Bansal, RTI activist informed that he made a website to help NRI victims.
The conference made several demands including guilty NRI husbands should be prosecuted under section 376 and 420 because it has become an organized crime. “India has extradition treaties with 39 countries and if any government can take action against the economic offenders who flee from India then why it cannot take action against an NRI husband for fraudulant marriage?”