The 1982 Bollywood movie Bazaar, starring veteran actors such as Naseeruddin Shah, Farooq Sheikh, Smita Patil and Supriya Pathak, was based on the theme of ‘bride selling’ in Hyderabad and showed how a girl was sold off by needy parents to an affluent expatriate based in the Gulf.
Over three decades since then, the reality of the place, also known as the ‘City of Pearls’ has not changed.
In a shocking incident, a minor from Hyderabad has been married off to an elderly Sheikh based in Oman for a payment of Rs 5 lakh. Her family on Wednesday approached the Falaknuma Additional Commissioner of Police and filed a complaint, alleging that the 16-year-old had been fraudulently married off to Ahmed, a 65-year-old Omani national.
The teenager’s parents have been pleading the authorities to help them bring the girl back from Muscat, where she was taken after marriage.
In her complaint, the teen’s mother Unnisa alleged that her sister-in-law Ghousia colluded with her husband Sikander to fudge documents with a Qazi’s help. The mother added that without her knowledge, they performed her daughter’s nikaah (marriage) with the elderly sheikh at a hotel in Barkas area of Hyderabad Old City before this Ramzan.
The mother also alleged that for this unethical contractual marriage, the Omani Sheikh paid Rs 5 lakh to Ghousia and Sikander.
This is not the first time such a case has been reported from the city, which is otherwise known for its cultural heritage and close association with Arabs.
The nexus of contractual marriages mainly of minor girls from poor families to Arab Sheikhs by Qazis or distant relatives is rampant. These sheikhs come to the city to find ‘suitable’ brides after paying amounts ranging from Rs 10,000 to lakhs of rupees.
MANEKA GANDHI WRITES TO SUSHMA
Following the report, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi took cognisance of the incident.
Gandhi has directed the Hyderabad Commissioner of Police to investigate the case and has sought an action-taken report against those involved in the illegal marriage. The National Commission for Protection of Child Right has also been asked to contact the family members of their girl and provide necessary assistance.
To bring the minor back to India safe, the minister has written to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, seeking her requisite intervention.