A 35-year-old woman, whose husband allegedly kept her starved and confined in a room for a month in Bareilly after giving her triple talaq, died Monday. Rescued by her family members in April, she had been undergoing treatment for the past two and half months, but died on the way to a Lucknow hospital, to which she had been referred as her condition was not improving.
An FIR was registered against her husband and in-laws soon after she was rescued in May, but the six accused named in the complaint are yet to be arrested.
“My sister Razia got married to Naeem Khan in 2005. A few days after their marriage, Naeem started beating her up, demanding dowry. In April, Naeem gave her talaq over phone. He returned home after a few days and then locked her in a small room of his house and didn’t even give her food or water,” claimed Razia’s elder sister Tara Bi while speaking to The Indian Express over phone.
She further said, “After keeping her locked for a month, Naeem took her to his maternal uncle Iqbal’s house and confined her in another room there. A local resident informed me about this. We had no information as my sister’s husband never allowed us to visit his house or talk to her. We went to Iqbal’s house, rescued my sister and brought her home. She was in a terrible condition so we got her admitted in a hospital.”
Chief Medical Superintendent of Bareilly district hospital, Dr K S Gupta, said, “When Razia was brought to the hospital, she was like a living skeleton. She was also severely anaemic. After her health did not show much progress, on July 3, we recommended that she be taken to King George’s Medical University, Lucknow. However, they took her home in our ambulance. We even offered them an ambulance to take the woman to Lucknow.”
According to Tara Bi, Razia was admitted to the district hospital thrice over the last two and half months. “We took her home before taking her to KGMU so we could collect some money for her medical expenses. However, on Monday, she was not feeling very well, so we arranged for a vehicle to take her to Lucknow. The district hospital had offered their ambulance, but since we had already gotten her discharged, we decided not to use it. We left early Monday morning, but she died on the way at around 2.30 pm.”
SP (Rural) Satish Kumar, presently officiating as the district SSP, said that on May 5, an FIR was registered on the complaint of Razia against her husband and family members under IPC sections 498 A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace). “The charges under IPC section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) were added to the FIR after Razia’s death, on the basis of a fresh complaint by her sister,” he added.
Tara Bi alleged the police did not once visit her sister to record her statement, even though the first FIR was lodged in May. “In May, I had taken my sister to the police station to file a complaint, but she was not in a condition to speak. Police never came to us to record Razia’s statement till she died on Monday,” she said.
Station House Officer (SHO) of Quila police station Kamlesh Kant Verma said, “Investigation is ongoing and a search is on to arrest the accused since IPC section 304 was added to the FIR. The accused are on the run.”
Asked why no headway had been made into the case, Circle officer (CO), City, Ashok Kumar Meena, said, “The FIR was registered under IPC section 498 A and we were following the legal process. An accused booked under this section can be imprisoned for less than seven years, thus there cannot be immediate arrest. Following the process, we went for mediation in the case, but the complainant (Razia) failed to come to the police station thrice.”
He further said, “On June 26, following the district magistrate’s directive, a medical examination of the victim was conducted by a team of four doctors. Doctors said that the victim’s brain had shrunk, she was anaemic and her heart was not working properly. The report also stated that she had no internal or external injury. On July 7, we had recorded the statement of the victim, who repeated the same allegations she had mentioned in her May complaint.”
Inspector General (IG), Bareilly Range, Dhruv Kumar Thakur, who had earlier in the day said he did not have details of the case, told this newspaper Wednesday evening, “Police followed the set legal procedure as the victim had not mentioned in her complaint earlier that she was tortured or beaten up, and the medical report too had not stated any injury.”
He added, “The complaint focused on triple talaq and dowry. It did not clearly mention that she was tortured or physically assaulted by her husband or in-laws. She did not appear for the mediation. Also, the initial medical report failed to alert us about her critical condition.”
The IG further claimed that a police team had visited the victim earlier as well, while the CO claimed that her statement was recorded last Saturday (July 7).
Farhat Naqvi, founder of NGO ‘Mera Haq’, who helped rescue Razia from her husband’s home, said, “A few days ago, Razia said she felt she was not going to survive. She said that her last wish was that her son stays with her family and not with her husband. Her sister has adopted Anas. We have yet to get justice for Razia.”
On August 22 last year, the Supreme Court had struck down triple talaq, calling it unconstitutional and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, which provides for equality before the law.