Srinagar: On a humid Sunday afternoon, a Kashmiri woman, Ishrat (not her real name), called her brother from Delhi, saying “baya, mei bachao (brother, please save me).
She was calling from a car being driven by one Jehangir who tried to snatch phone from her. The terrified woman retched and vomit dribbled down her garment.
“My heart was sinking. All I wanted to get out of the clutches of this wretched man,” she told Kashmir Reader.
Ishrat’s husband Zakir Taluqdar alias Sadiq had left home early in the morning in pursuit of his routine: heavy drinking, gambling and junk food and fondling women in buses.
Late in the night, when he returned home, he would hunt for excuses to beat up Ishrat.
“Every night I was subjected to torture. He was demanding money from me and pressurizing me to call my parents in Srinagar to ask for more and more money,” she said.
Ishrat hails from Habba Kadal locality of old Srinagar. Her Kashmiri mother is married to a Bengali settled in Kashmir for decades. On June 17, 2012 she was married to Zakir, who hails from Bhalswa, Jahangirpuri area of New Delhi on 17 June 2012. She says the Taluqdar family lied to them and they fell into the trap.
“Zakir’s family lied about his employment and age. He was 45, too old for a girl like me. I came to know about his real self shortly after my marriage. All he knew was gambling, drinking and beating me up,” said Ishrat.
The domestic abuse started on day one. “He returned home drunk and in such a state that I was terrified. “When I was dreaming of leading a comfortable married life, the hell broke when he beat me up on the first sight. He left me sobbing all the night,” she said.
Violence against women on the rise
- Women’s police station Rambagh receives 10 to 15 complaints of domestic violence every day. There has been a steep increase in the cases related to violence against women, particularly from past few years, officials say
- A study conducted on domestic violence by sociology department, University of Kashmir, shows 31 percent women allege physical harassment by husbands and in laws, 39% women faced dowry demand by in-laws, 9% face demands for gifts by husbands, 7% faced the violence regularly and 39% preferred silence over the incidents
The torment continued. Zakir lived with his family but separated Ishrat to a small room away from his family. His father, Muslim Taluqdar and brother Farooq used to demand money from her. “They took away all my jewellery and continued to demand more,” she said.
“I was pressurized to get money from Kashmir or do something to earn in Delhi,” she said indicating that the Taluqdars intended to push her into flesh trade.
Ishrat came to know that Zakir Taluqdar has served seven years in jail on charges of espionage. “I came to know about his other wives after marriage and it was too late to act. I don’t know if they are dead or alive. Maybe he might have sold them for prostitution like me,” Ishrat told Kashmir Reader.
Ishra said she clung to her marriage with Zakir after giving birth to a baby girl in 2013. “I have no option left but to stay with him and bear his aggression,” she said.
But things came to an ugly pass on this sweltering Sunday afternoon in August 2015. Jehangir, a frequent visitor to Zakir’s home, knocked at her door while she was alone. He asked her to pack her luggage and go out with him.
“He (Jehangir) told me that Zakir has sold me to him for Rs 7000 and I was his property now,” she said.
I shouted in vain. There was none to help me as if they knew the entire plan. “Jehangir took me forcibly with my breast feeding baby in lap, bundled me in the car and drove away. I wept and pleaded before him but he did not relent.”
Ishrat says that Jehangir is originally from Kashmir but has been residing in Kolkata for decades. He earns through flesh trade and after purchasing Ishrat from her husband, he drove her to a brothel.
“He took me to a place where girls were flirting with men. Some of them were drinking and others were engaged in sexual acts,” she said.
Ishrat somehow ran away from the place and straightway went to her Jehangirpuri home. Her stunned in-laws reacted by setting her on fire. “They tried to burn me by setting a gas cylinder on fire. I escaped from the scene and they allowed me to flee,” she said.
Ishtar said that she wandered on Delhi streets for one night without food and money with infant in my lap. I was desperately waiting for my brother, whom I had frantically called for help. He was on way to Delhi,” she said.
Worse, back home, she did not get any help from police. Ishrat went to Shaheed Ganj police station to file case against all the accused. However, the police refused to lodge the complaint. In the meantime, pimp Jehangir came to Kashmir in her pursuit.
“He told me to go with him by threatening me and my family. He frequently used to come to my home to take me away. He is a ferocious man. If my family was not by my side, he would have taken me back to hell in Delhi,” Ishrat said.
After police’s refusal to file a report against pimp Jehangir, Ishrat filed a case in a Srinagar court this week.
“The matter was filed on 4 May under section 23 of domestic violence act in a court in Srinagar. The court has now directed that SHO Shaheed Gunj be appointed as protection officer for the victim and has issued notice to the accused to appear in court at the earliest,” Ishrat’s counsel Musaib Syed told Kashmir Reader.