Personal account: A Pakistani bride’s hellish Kashmir journey
A cross-border love story turned out to be a nightmare for the Pakistani bride Mehnaz, when her influential husband Danish Shervani turned out to be a monster. After nine years of abuse, both physical and mental, which left Mehnaz’s third child dead, the wretched mother finally opens up. Here is her heart wrenching open letter, produced verbatim.
“My name is Mehnaz Siddiqui and I am a Pakistani national (passport number KH788258) married to an Indian citizen Abdullah Danish Sherwani. We met 10 years ago over Orkut and kept communicating online for sometime before he visited Pakistan in 2009. It was a Kashmir university-sponsored tour. He stayed back even as his companion returned to Kashmir. He visited my place and expressed his desire to marry me, to which my parents and his parents objected initially. I was impressed by his religious mannerism. Later my parents agreed keeping in view my will. We got married and moved to Kashmir.
I was completely new to the society and culture in Kashmir, almost like an empty slate but he and his family rather than guiding me started picking faults at everything I did or I did not do. They were not welcoming to me as a bride or later. I was no better than a maid. The abuse had started very early on but I wanted the things to work between us because I loved him and I had no choice of going back to my family in Karachi.
I gave birth to a son Muhammad Abdullah Shervani in 2010 July 11(Indian passport holder N8430922). The family was not ready to accept me and we had to move out from the house to a rented space in Rajbagh and later Qamarwari. During our stay at Rajbagh, we were struggling with the money as none of us earned handsomely. I sold my gold to make that rented house a home. I conceived and had a miscarriage once due to extreme physical torture. He beat me up brutally and I was in pain for two days before he took me to see a gynaecologist on the third day when I was bleeding profusely. In 2012 October 13 I gave birth to a daughter Ayesha Abdullah Shervani(Indian passport holder K6940616 )and when she was born, it upset his family and they called us home fearing the badmouthing in the society. At their residence, my condition became more pitiable because no one would care for me or even talk to me or feed me properly. Rather than showing any compassion, I would constantly be at the receiving end of slurs from his parents. His family never made any efforts to reach out to me. Initially, I started my work at a school in Raj bagh near our rented residence for mere 3000 INR. I later started teaching at a school in Pulwama which earned me 13000 INR. During this time, I had to travel with both my kids, one of who was barely a few months old, to Pulwama because I had no one to support me and could not afford domestic help. I finally started working at a school in Srinagar where the salary was comparatively decent at 20,000 INR per month. However, during all my work period, he told me that I being a Pakistani national would not be able to make a bank account, hence all my salary was taken away by him. We kept moving from one place to another and finally started living at a quarter in Kashmir university campus as he got a job as Liason officer at KU, main campus.
Now that we had a separate home, I thought things would get better but contrary to that, here all his torture could easily be buried inside the four walls. He would beat me regularly and even lock me inside the premises. The torture continued and now kids were witness to it too and victims as well. In August 2016 I applied for visa like I used to do every year. In January 2017, while we were still living together, he started sending letters to various agencies like MHA, misleading them into believing that I had connections with separatists. All of this was happening behind my back. Because of his claims, obtaining visa became difficult for me. I remained under radar for long and the FRO did not let me fill the application for visa because he had misled into believing these things about me.
I conceived once again in March 2017. He did not want the baby and kept forcing me to get an abortion done. He was also mad at me when I disclosed before CID about my pregnancy. This agitated him a lot and I had to go through hell once again. He beat me brutally with an intention of causing the abortion. He even approached me with knives in his hands with an intention induce an abortion but couldn’t succeed. He once again locked me inside the quarter but by then my screams had reached our neighbors who intervened and saved my and my child’s life.
Observing my abuse, the university set up a committee. It directed Danish to help me obtain visa and stop beating me. I gave birth to a baby boy in December 2017 25 . I was alone at that time and I repeated called him to take me to hospital for delivery. He did not respond and I boarded a cab full of passengers because I couldn’t make sense of things due to pain. The driver was kind enough to drop me at the hospital and a female co-passenger accompanied me inside. I was admitted in the state of trauma. Danish arrived later gave his consent , and signed papers as husband for my ligation without seeking my consent. Around the same time I got a stay order from high court ( December 2017 ) on my deportation.
The baby was critically ill and remained hospitalized till his death on 25 Jan 2018 .He never took me to the gyn
ecologist for checkup or ultrasound. In result of his tourture and negligence my baby born with clubbed hand and feet , Kidney problem ,liver problem ,pralized large intestine and collapsed lungs . He got surgery of his intestine in skims .He was on ventilator and fighting for his life for almost a month and died on 25 Jan 2018 . On his death, Danish’s mother accused me of being a drug addict and held me responsible for the death. They did not let me be a part of my dead son’s funeral and asked me to stay at the quarter. I was craving to go there but I was all alone forced to stay back and receive guests here. In coming days as the abuse continued. He visited me on 29 Jan 2018 and told me that he was taking me to see a doctor. Instead he took me in his car and started abusing me and finally forced me out of his car at the Nigeen bridge saying that I was free to commit suicide. My wounds from surgery had still not healed when he hit me hard from his car and left me in the middle of the road to die.
I decided to take help from a local NGO, Kashmir Women’s collective to file an FIR against him and his family for harassing me at such a crucial time. I filed an FIR against him for domestic violence in Nigeen Police station on 1 February 2018. This agitated him so much that he started contacting my family in Pakistan and asking them to call me back. He would regularly call my mother and threaten her. I also filed a petition in the district court seeking maintenance from him for my kids. It is pertinent to mention that he has not been paying for their expenses including their school fees. By Feb, I had no money left and had to manage by borrowing money from acquaintances which I am yet to pay back.
Danish pretends to be overly polite and religious which is a deliberate investment in creating a good public image. He kept refuting all the allegations of domestic violence and any form of abuse.He submitted a long letter to the concerned police station claiming that I was anti national, thereby using my identity against me. He also shamed me by questioning my sanctity and providing my private pictures to the SHO Nigeen PS. In court too, he keeps delaying the proceeding by claiming that he cannot afford to hire any legal services which to my understanding is false for he draws a handsome salary and has a well established family business.
Danish has time and again tried to prove that I am mentally unstable and in doing so he approached various psychiatrists to obtain a forged medical certificate proving the same. The people at the clinic stand witness to his malicious actions of trying to influence Dr Mushtaq Margoob who did not give in. The harassment did not end with this. He keeps inventing new ways every day. He tried taking away children from me on a roadside and then the following day on 25-4-2018, he entered the quarter where I am putting up right now with kids and stole the evidences that would have gone against him during court trials . The police alerted him beforehand about the FIR that I was going to file in this case under sections 506 , 380 and he managed to get an anticipatory bail. It almost seems as if he is being let off only to harass me and those associated with me. He complained to the university saying that those supporting me had an inclination towards Pakistan. He accused them of favoring anti national activities on campus. This he did taking an advantage of the ongoing volatile situation at the campus. He also sent legal notices to people associated with me and kept going to their workplaces to cause them more trouble.
He makes regular allegation of me being in a job here illegally. I would like to mention that I am here on on LTV and am eligible to work here. I would also bring it to your notice that he previously threatened me against going to women’s commission and in case I did, he said he would not help me with the visa.
I would like to emphasize that I came to Kashmir because of him only and my perspectives on kashmir and its politics were developed only because of him. I never had any sort of inclination to separatists, hence all his claims are false. I am also open to any sort of enquiry if the need is felt. Instead, he missed no opportunity to use his family name to his advantage. He demanded me wearing gloves even though I always cover my head as per Islamic guidelines. This shows that the way he enforces religion on me and uses religion against me is in turn an extremist version of Islam and his inclinations call for more serious attention.
Since Danish is out on bail, he is leaving no stone unturned to harass me and cause me harm. He is hell bent upon getting me deported to Pakistan. His insistence on evicting me from Kashmir seems to have some ulterior motive behind it which can only be him trying to remarry. Infact I had begun suspecting his unusual closeness with a lady in the University which was not appropriate. He would spend long time chatting with her and talking to her over phone . He had a separate phone to talk to her which he hid from me and I discovered much later only. I also found him to be in possession of very intimate things of hers and that’s when I suspected their affair. I tried discussing the matter with him but he used it against me claiming that I was being pointlessly paranoid and controlling. He shamed be by saying that I was being a bad wife by suspecting his affair with his aunt. He says he divorced me in September but I didn’t receive , sign or listen anything. In September I was seven months pregnant and delivered baby boy in December 2017. At the time of delivery he signed papers and gave his consent for legation when I was in theater under anesthesia.
Danish tried evicting me and my kids from our current residence that is Kashmir university quarter by writing (copy enclosed) to the authorities that he no longer needed it. That letter could have landed me and the kids on street because I have no relatives living here in Kashmir and can’t afford to rent a place. I managed to get a restraining order from the court.
Under such circumstances, I would not be surprised if he murders me as he has tried harming me in past. My and the safety of my children is at stake. He has been reaching out to as many agencies as he can to get me evicted but I assure you that all his charges are fabricated and none of his letters and requests should be taken seriously. I request your goodself to take necessary measures to prevent him from doing any harm to me and my children and the only step that one can think of logically would be to put him behind bars and not give him any further concessions in that regard. I demand and request that he should be suspended from his job of liason officer in the light of the fact that he has two FIRs lodged against him, he should be charged for taking court and legal system lightly as he doesn’t present himself before the court and doesn’t take the proceedings seriously. He tweeted on Twitter to Mr Rajnath and MS Sushma swaraj regarding breech of security at national level on 8th June . Later he deleted that but many people saw that .which is the proof how hard he is trying to throw me out from here. After all this yesterday also he was haressing my family to call me back but I don’t want to go , I can’t go , my children are Indian National. Pakistan won’t keep them . How can a mother live without children
Despite knowing that his crimes are non bailable in nature, multiple FIRs have not deterred him from harassing me. So I also request you to get canceled his anticipatory bail because as long as he remains outside the jail, he will keep harming me and my kids and anyone associated with me. It is also pertinent to mention that he is going to perform Haj as Khaddim Ul Hujjaj, something that he wears as a badge of honor and prove his piety which is a lie. Being a serial abuser and liar, he can only pretend to be a pious and that would be an insult to the holy pilgrimage and all those that accompany him. And if the state sponsors an abuser like him, it would send out a wrong signal to abusers like him and to victims like me that an abuser is backed by the state to perform holy duty like that without checking his credentials and taking cognizance of grave charges and FIRs against him.
At the same time I request you to grant me /facilitate me in getting the citizenship as I have lived in India for 9 years now and if not on marriage ground, I am eligible to be here on compassionate ground for being a mother of two Indian citizens. My case of maintenance is in court and he being the father has to pay for the maintenance of the children, I will carry on with my private teaching work and rear my children here. My home society will be hostile if I return after a failed marriage of a decade which my purely based on my poor judgement which I will always regret. I can give in writing that I won’t ever and have never in the past indulged in any behaviour that can be classified as anti national. As a mother I want this relief from the judicial and executive of this democratic country of India. These days he is on anticipatory bail but without any fear Continuously harrassing me and intimidating my relatives in Pakistan. I request you to take action against him .
Please help me in staying here and staying safe from his ill designs. If Danish is punished it will deter men like him from recklessly abandoning their wives and breaching their trust, especially someone like me who has no social acceptance back home.
Thanking you in anticipation.
W/O: Abdullah Danish Sherwani
R/O : RF1, Staff Quarters, Main campus, Kashmir University