In-laws allegedly assault wife of NRI man for more dowry

Wincing in pain, and confined to hospital bed, Melita Alice D’Souza (27) narrates the tale of a love marriage gone sour. Since January, she and her in-laws have been involved in a series of criminal cases and court petitions; it ended in her confinement without food for three days, she claims.

She and her husband Manoj D’Souza had known each other for five years before tying the knot on December 26, 2010, amid much opposition from his family, says Ms. D’Souza, who is a coordinator at a school. After marriage, she stayed at her mother-in-law Lucy Sanctis’ house in Derebail, while her husband continued to work in Dubai.

She claims around Rs. 8 lakh in cash and gold had been given as dowry. “They continued to demand more, and harassed me for that. My father is an agriculturist, and giving more was out of the question,” says Ms. D’Souza.

She details the harassment as being in many forms – from disallowing her from working, to preventing her from seeing her husband when he returned to India for holidays. On January 7, the matter was taken to court, with Ms. Sanctis obtained an injunction order. “They told the court that I was not staying with them after marriage and hence, should not enter their property,” says Ms. D’Souza, whose appeal is pending before the court.

Aggrieved by the alleged mental harassment, she filed a dowry harassment case at the Kavoor Police Station on January 17. Ms. Sanctis, and her father-in-law Mark Sanctis, have received bail, while Melita’s husband Manoj, who was named for neglect, will be arrested on his return to the country, says the police.

The filing of the case, says Ms. D’Souza, aggravated the harassment, and she was forced to go to the court with a domestic violence petition. On February 27, the court 3 of Judicial Magistrate First Class restrained the family from domestic violence.

However, this was short-lived. She claims: “After the cases were filed, my in-laws left the house. They returned March 30, and started physically assaulting me. They even confined me and my mother in a room, depriving us of food, water, power and even access to the toilet. Both of us had to urinate in a bag.”

Harry D’Souza, a neighbour, testifies to incessant quarrelling and physical abuse in the house. “Melita’s condition was pathetic. I sneaked in food for them. When this was discovered, the family abused me, and threw slippers at me. They even spread rumours that Melita and I were having an affair,” he says.

On April 2, she was kicked out of the house, and Ms. D’Souza had to be admitted to Wenlock Hospital. “Even when she was leaving, they were beating her. Her relatives and I tried to protect her. While we were busy with the treatment, they filed a case of assault against us,” says Mr. Harry D’Souza.

Kavoor Police said there had been no arrests yet. “There are claims and counter-claims; we have to conduct a probe before arresting anyone,” says an officer.

Mark Sanctis, refused to comment on the cases, calling them complicated and to be decided by the courts.

Ms. D’Souza says she had given up on trying to salvage the marriage. “All I want is to return to my work, and forget whatever has happened.”

  • Rs. 8 lakh was given as dowry, the demand continued: D’Souza

  • ‘Melita was kicked out of house, and had to be admitted to hospital’