Nuzhat Jahan currently lodged in Nirmal Chhaya
“Send my wife back to Pakistan or release her to the family, just don’t forget her in Nirmal Chhaya (shelter home for women),’’ pleads Mohammed Gulfam, husband of the Pakistani national Nuzhat Jahan who has been living in Delhi for the past 30 years and is now awaiting her deportation to her country for overstaying in India illegally.
Nuzhat, who was married at the age of 17, has stayed with her husband in India ever since in their small house in Sitaram Bazar, Old Delhi.
In 2002, she was picked up for overstaying in India without a valid visa. Earlier this month she was sentenced to six days’ imprisonment, awarded a fine and ordered to be sent back to Pakistan.
After serving her punishment, she is currently lodged in Nirmal Chhaya awaiting further orders from the Central Government.
“My wife was taken away early this month and we haven’t had proper access to her since then. A Delhi Court has ordered her deportation; she has served her punishment and now is being kept in Nirmal Chhaya where we (her family–children and grand children) have had very little access to her. It is worse than being in Tihar Jail. We appeal to the Government to decide our fate soon. Send her back to Pakistan, if that is the only thing that can be done, but whatever is your decision just do it soon. Don’t forget this 47/48-year-old woman in a shelter home,’’ says Gulfam, looking at his wedding photos, eyes brimming with tears.
“The last time I spoke to her, she said please ask the Indian Government to send me back to Pakistan or kill me, but don’t let them forget about me in Nirmal Chhaya,’’ adds Gulfam.
“The wait is the worst punishment,’’ says 27-years-old Gulsher, the second of Nuzhat’s three children.
“She is not home, she hasn’t been sent to Pakistan and she is lodged in a place where we can’t even sit down and talk to her. We are worried about her health: my mother has high blood pressure, she has ulcer, problem with her liver and is anaemic. We are worried about how she is faring in the shelter home,’’ he says.
Even back in Pakistan, Nuzhat only has her old mother, besides her brother and sister who are married and have their own families. “The last time that my parents went to Pakistan was in 1992, my mother is more Indian than Pakistani she has lived her entire life here,’’ adds Gulsher.
Unable to hold back his tears, Gulfam says: “After my wife has been taken away nothing is like before. My life seems over. What are these borders and nationalities about? Isn’t compassion the greatest law in the world? We are talking about a simple housewife here whose life has always revolved around her three children and grandchildren. She would even refuse to go shopping alone. Her home was her entire universe.’’
Speaking about his helplessness and how he finds himself alone in his fight to get his wife an Indian passport, Gulfam says: “No political party, leader or women’s group has agreed to help us despite the fact that we have been running from pillar to post appealing for help. Now I have lost all hope and the strength to take this fight forward; so if the court has ordered my wife's deportation, send her back. Please do not forget that it is a human life and an entire family’s fate is being decided here.’’