The petition that led to the recent Supreme Court ruling on the validity of fatwas primarily cited her case. Nine years after she was raped by her father-in-law and directed to leave her husband by a fatwa, the 37-yr-old can’t live the case down, only hide from it, finds IRENA AKBAR in Kukda village, Muzaffarnagar.
In Kukda, a small village in Muzaffarnagar, western Uttar Pradesh, they all know her. On the main road leading to the village, a shopkeeper, when asked where Imrana stays, says, “achcha, woh case waali (oh, that woman in the case)?”. Walk through the “Hindu area”, cross a mosque, and then ask for her in the “Mohammedan area”, he directs.
In the “Hindu area”, large, concrete homes painted bright pink, green and blue lie on either side of a narrow, clean lane. In one of the corners is a small mosque, after which the homes get smaller in size, paler in shade — mostly yellow or cream — while the lane becomes irregular, narrow at some places, wide at others. Most houses are semi-pucca, their walls made of exposed bricks and their roof made of straw or reed.
The “Mohammedan” part of the village also has a lot of vacant area with, intermittently, dried dungcakes, haystacks and the odd grazing buffalo.
If the Hindus of Kukda are rich Jat farmers, the Muslims are poor labourers who construct homes, work in the fields or pull carts. Villagers say the ratio is “50:50”. The starkly demarcated areas notwithstanding, Kukda was untouched by the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar last year.
In the Muslim area too, where there is more than one Imrana, she stands apart. Just start talking about “the one whose father-in-law…”, and they point you in the direction of “woh case waali”.
Imrana lives right at the end of Kukda village, opposite what locals call “murda-ghaat”, a large cremation ground. It’s the poorest part of the village, the homes little more than one-room structures with shared walls. The door to her house, which has a thatched roof, is hidden behind a stained white tarpaulin sheet.
A girl in her teens, wearing a salwar-kameez with the dupatta covering her head, opens at the first knock. We tell her we are here to meet Imrana. Angry and suspicious, she looks at us top to bottom. Guessing Imrana’s visitors are not from these parts, she asks: “Why do you want to meet my mother?”
It’s not the first such knock at that door. Perhaps not even the first Imrana’s daughter has answered. It was nine years ago, in June 2005, that Imrana became a known name. Nobody had seen her face — always veiled continued…
According to them, Laali committed suicide as she was fed up with physical and mental torture meted out to her.