The crossing of international border by Alwar’s 35-year-old Anju last week, to be with her Pakistani “friend”, has left more questions than answers for her family back home.
Last week, Anju informed her family that she is going to Jaipur, but reached Pakistan instead to be with Nasrullah, a resident of Upper Dir district in Malakand Division of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
In a video statement earlier, Anju, sitting alongside Nasrullah, claimed she met him on Facebook . “Like other people come and visit, I have come here in the same manner. People are making it an issue while I’ve just come to visit my friend. Some are saying we are getting engaged or married but there is nothing like that. I am merely visiting and have come here legally. I have to go back and I will go back in two-three days.”
While family claims she told them she is going to Jaipur, she says she had told the family she is on her way to Amritsar. “I had to come here via Amritsar and the Wagah border, so when I crossed the border, there was a network issue and I could not talk to them. But I eventually told the family – they had no (unusual) reaction,” she said.
However, as her ‘nikahnama’, or a marriage certificate with Nasrullah – which also recorded her conversion from Christianity to Islam as Fatima – went viral, back home her husband Arvind “disowned” her and is now demanding an investigation into her documents and even an FIR once she returns.
“She lied and got a visa and even from there she keeps lying,” he said.
“Although she is claiming that she has submitted divorce papers, there is nothing like that. She is still my wife,” he told journalists. He added: “If she returns, we won’t accept her because she left on her own, she didn’t tell me or the kids or any family member. Even the kids are now declining to meet her if she comes back. I will not accept her. My elder daughter is saying she won’t (accept her either).”
Anju’s father Gaya Prasad too said he has “disowned” her. “She usually talks to her mother, not with me. I didn’t even know when she got a passport or visa made, or left. The woman who takes such a step, leaving behind two children… She could have taken a divorce first but now that man’s (Arvind’s) life is spoiled, and of two children as well,” he said.
“There is no pressure of any sort from us for anything. I don’t want to talk to her. When she has left us, it is as if she has died for us,” he said.
Arvind added: “When it came to work, she did get tense sometimes. But I never thought she would take such a big step. Once she resolves that she has to do something, she will definitely do it.”
“The children are okay and know about it. They are telling me not to take tension,” he said. “Our relations were okay. She used to joke that she doesn’t want to live together but I didn’t think (that she would act on it).”
In her initial statement, Anju had spoken about Pakistan, saying, “I like the place hence I would want to visit again and bring my kids this time … The people here are better than what I had thought.” While her visa expires on August 20, it is not clear if she will return to India. If she does, Arvind says, “I will first ask her how she got her visa made. And I will get an FIR registered once she arrives.”
In a video statement, Nasrullah (29), who works as a medical representative, said his “relationship” with Anju started in 2019. However, Covid disrupted their plans to meet. “We had applied for a visa back then but it didn’t go through. Then in 2022 her visa process started and I applied for the NOC (no-objection certificate). I struggled a lot for her. Her process was finally completed in 2023… she has come here with legal documents. The government has provided her 24-hour security.”
“She is here on her own will, she is not being forced, she is a guest and she can leave anytime. When we used to talk over video chats, it was our dream to meet each other. We did not even believe that we would get to meet each other – it was beyond our thoughts. But then a day came when we met each other and got to see each other properly, it was a big deal. Our dream was fulfilled,” he said.
Asked about the “issue”, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “This is not a foreign policy issue, but (their) personal matter.”