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Pak Cites ‘Legal Issues’ to Delay Return of Indian Woman Forced Into Marriage

New Delhi: An Indian woman who was allegedly sexually abused and forced into marriage at gunpoint will be sent back as soon as the legal issues in the case are resolved, advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said.

Aziz said the real problem in her case was the legal issue and not the travel documents. “The problem is not related to her travel documents, but stems from legal issues,” Aziz said. “She will be sent back to India as soon as the legal problems are resolved.”

India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay in New Delhi said the woman was in the High Commission, she was fine and “as happy as she could be” in the current situation. He also reiterated that she was staying in the mission out of her own will after she sought shelter there.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria had on Tuesday said that the Foreign Office and Indian authorities were in touch over the issue and the woman would be allowed to go back once her legal issues are settled.

He said the Indian High Commission has provided details about the woman and has also sought documents of her marriage.

However, a senior lawyer of the Supreme Court told PTI on condition of anonymity that the woman can be repatriated immediately if she is issued a new passport by Indian High Commission and Pakistan’s interior ministry issues a visa to legalise her stay.

“Marriage or court proceedings are not a legal bar on her going back to India. She can delegate power of attorney to anyone to contest her case with the help of a lawyer,” he said.

The lawyer also said that marriage contracted through force can be dissolved by the court, if she testifies.

“Even if it is a legal marriage, she can file a case for Khula (a kind of divorce right exercised by Muslim woman) and her marriage would be dissolved by the court,” he said.

PRI reported that the woman had on May 8 filed a plea with a court in Islamabad against her husband, alleging that she was being harassed and intimidated by him. She also recorded her statement before magistrate Haider Ali Shah.

She told the magistrate that she came to Pakistan to see her relatives and not for marriage, a court official told PTI. “I was forced to marry at gunpoint and my immigration documents were also taken away from me,” she said, according to the official.

The woman, who was brought to the court under strict security, also alleged in her statement that she was subjected to violence and sexual abuse by her husband, said the court official. She further said she does not want to leave the Indian High Commission premises till she could safely travel back to India.

The court adjourned the case till July 11 and issued notices to the woman’s husband to appear for next hearing. It also summoned cleric Humayun Khan, who solemnised the marriage, to appear in person in the court on the next hearing.

The cleric has said that he had asked the woman if she was marrying by free will and she responded in affirmative.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: May 11, 2017, 8:10 AM IST