“That night, Tahir sexually assaulted and tortured me and threatened to kill me if I did not sign the Nikah Nama the next day. They show(ed) me a gun and threatened me… They took my signature on (the) Nikah Nama at gunpoint…”
IN HER sworn statement before a court in Islamabad on Monday, Uzma, the 20-year-old Indian woman who has taken refuge at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, has alleged that she was sexually assaulted, “tortured mentally”, and forced to marry Tahir Ali, a resident of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, “at gunpoint”.
Uzma met Tahir in Malaysia, where he was working as a taxi driver, about eight months ago. The two reportedly got married on May 3, in Buner in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two days after Uzma reached Pakistan via the Wagah border.
In her statement, seen by The Indian Express, Uzma said that she stayed in Malaysia “for approximately two months”. When she returned to India, she got a visa from the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi after Tahir sent a “sponsor letter”.
After crossing the Wagah border, she said she was “picked up by Tahir in a car”. “He told me that he lives in a mountainous area and gave me medicine,” she said. After taking the medicine, she reportedly became unconscious.
On reaching his home, Tahir reportedly “sexually assaulted and tortured” her and “threatened to kill” her if she did not sign the Nikah Nama. “They made me marry forcefully,” she said. “Then they tortured me mentally, beating me, and made me do all the household work… Every evening, Tahir would sexually assault and physically torture me… I only came to know later… that Tahir already has a wife and four children… Now, all of them together harass me, beat me and torture me in every possible way, mentally, physically and emotionally,” she said in her statement.
Stating that she “came to the Indian High Commission, Islamabad, with Tahir to receive money which was sent by my brother from Delhi, as Tahir is a greedy person,” Uzma said, “I face danger if I return to Tahir’s village… If I go with Tahir to his village, only my dead body will come back.”
Hours after she gave her statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the Indian High Commission in Islamabad was working with the Pakistan Foreign Ministry for her “safe return”, as desired by Uzma and her family. Her brother has met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
“The young Indian woman, who sought shelter in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on May 5, 2017, today recorded her statement in the Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class in Islamabad, as per local legal requirement,” said MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay.
“The Indian High Commission has provided her necessary consular and legal assistance. It is coordinating with Pakistan Foreign Office for her safe return and is also in touch with her family in India on the matter. Her brother met the External Affairs Minister and requested the government’s help to rescue his sister at the earliest,” he said.
Uzma also told the court that she took shelter at the Indian High Commission of her own accord and would stay there till she is sent back to India with security.
On Sunday, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry had said that “the Indian High Commission informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that… Uzma had approached them with the request to be repatriated to India.” The Pakistan Foreign Ministry said that according to the Indian High Commission, Uzma claimed to have married Tahir and alleged that she later came to know that he was already married and has four children.
The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi said the immigration documents showed that Uzma obtained her visa under the “visitor category”. Pakistani authorities have said she did not share her plans to marry in Pakistan when she applied for the visa, and only expressed her intent to visit her relatives there.
Tahir, meanwhile, has accused the Indian High Commission in Islamabad of detaining Uzma and filed a case with the local police.
According to Dawn newspaper, after getting married, Uzma called up her brother in New Delhi. Her brother asked her to visit India, and told her she should meet a man named Adnan at the Indian High Commission, who would be able to sort out their visas for the trip, the report quoted Tahir as saying.
“At the Indian High Commission window, she asked about Adnan. A while later, a man came out and took her inside through Gate 6. I waited and waited, and then at 7 pm I asked at the embassy gate if my wife was inside. They told me no one was inside,” said Tahir.
According to Indian government sources, Judicial Magistrate Haider Ali Shah has ordered respondents Tahir, the cleric who solemnised the marriage, as well as other witnesses to submit a reply. Shah fixed the next hearing for July 11.