Shafiq R Khan


Haryana buying brides from other states II

Nuh (Haryana): A handicapped, unkempt husband and lunatic brother-in-law is not what Ratna (40), an orphaned widow from Kolkata, had bargained for when she tied the knot with Arjun Punjabi (60), a widower in Nuh. Nor had she visualised the bitter legal wrangles she is involved in with Arjun’s brothers for his share in ancestral property. She thought by marrying Arjun, she would no more be a liability on her younger brother and get a secure future. Today she has been left to rue her decision.
“I’ve no money to pay for my husband’s treatment or my travel to Kolkata. If my parents were alive, I wouldn’t have married him”, she says alleging that Arjun and his relatives cheated her family by saying that Arjun inherited a bungalow, number of shops and prime agricultural land from his father in Nuh.
Ratna is not the only Paro (local name for women from Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Orissa who are settled in Mewat) who was tricked into marrying an old widower in the region. There are hundreds of her ilk in over 550 villages of Mewat district of Haryana, situated on South of Delhi.
Yet, Ratna is fortunate Arjun did not pay for her and cannot taunt her. Nor does she have to cope with with Arjun’s second wife, a ‘souten’. Saira, 35, faces occasional ridicule from her husband Ghulam Rasool, a rickshaw puller, even after the birth of their seven children. “I paid Rs 3,000 to a pimp Ayub and gifts to Saira’s family members,” says Rasool adding that he had married his younger brother to a girl from West Bengal. Saira, however, is in touch with her family members and occasionally visits them.
Khatoon of Nagina village has no such comfort. Her mama (maternal uncle) brought her from Sonaikala (Assam), sold her off for Rs 3,500 to a man and decamped.
As you criss-cross Hathin, Nuh and Firozpur, Nagina, the four towns of Mewat district, you come across hundreds of Bangla, Assamese, Bihari and Hyderabadi women married to widowers, handicapped and old men.
Mariam (30), who admitted to having been bought by Ishaq (50) in Malai village, said her husband paid Rs 3,000 for her. Ishaq claimed he bought her after his second wife died during delivery. He has eight children from three marriages. You also find a few cases of men having lied to their in-laws to get a second wife.
A Wahab Khan, an STD booth operator in Nuh, has brought Afsa, a second wife from Hyderabad though he was arleady married to Khurshidan and had three children from here. Khan and Afsa denied he lied to her parents but the first wife Khurshidan claimed otherwise. “Mere husband ne unko bataya meri biwi nahin, mere bachhe nahin” (My husband told them I don’t have wife and children), she said.
The police in Nuh have filed couple of such cases where men brought a second wife after lying about their marital status. Sarfuddin Mewati, a social worker in Hathin, told Mumbai Mirror that the Mewat region was steeped in illiteracy and unemployment and education for girls meant reading Quran, tending cattle and cooking. Another reason why Mewat has a liking for women from West Bengal, Assam and Bihar is that it has good number of drivers who travel to and from these states and help their fellow Mewatese in bringing Paros.
Flesh trade route
* Male-female ratio in Haryana’s Mewat district is skewed against women
* To compound the problem, the area is plagued by high rate of delivery-related deaths, thus bringing down the number of potential brides
* Also, a good number of Mewatese are drivers who travel through states like Assam, Bihar and West Bengal where they buy brides from
* Many of such brides are lured with the promise of better life. In many cases, they are tricked into marrying a widower or even a married man.
-- Narendra Kaushik

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