Delhi

Seven years of emotional solitude

Aanchal (name changed on request) walked free on May 5, after being confined to her home for nearly seven years by her parents, for falling in love with a Muslim college mate. A qualified homeopath, with a year-long work experience, she was rescued by the Delhi Commission for Women, after she called 181 — the helpline number for women in distress. The last time she had stepped out of her house independently was on August 14, 2009. Heading back from work in West Delhi, she was confronted by her parents with a birthday card addressed to her, signed with love from her boyfriend.

Restrictions imposed

As Aanchal remained defiant, her parents and her brother decided to cut short her career and did not allow her to leave the house unchaperoned. Her cell phone was confiscated and Internet connection blocked.

Repentance

Sitting in the corridor of the DCW office, Aaanchal rued her lost years. “I am 32 and ashamed that I allowed my family to take away seven years of my youth,” she told The Hindu .

The college mate she was in love with was pursuing a degree in physiotherapy.

“Almost every day my parents showed me some news or the other, on love jihad,” she said,

“They would tell me that he [her boyfriend] is plotting against you. I had nothing to do. So I picked up cooking as a hobby,” she said.

Severed relations

During her period of ‘house arrest’, her parents took her out to the odd family wedding, where she was forbidden from speaking to relatives. The idea of running away did cross her mind but her mother had threatened she would commit suicide, if she did. Her parents once threatened to kill her for dishonouring the family. Her father had even beaten her up, leaving her with bruises on the cheek and nose. Desperate, she had attempted to commit suicide, slashing her wrists, but was saved.

Inspiration

DCW officials told The Hindu , that Aanchal was influenced by cries of azadi given by JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar. But it took another two months for her to make the distress call.

“I called 181 from my mother’s number when she had gone to take a shower. I had exactly 10 minutes to explain my case,” she said.

On May 5, at 11:30 pm, Mahila Helpline Team which is supervised by the Delhi Commission for Women sent a rescue team to her residence.

Promilla Gupta, a DCW member who oversees the helpline, said the first words Aanchal uttered were: “Please Rescue Me.”

Her parents kept insisting that it was a cooked-up story.

Promise kept?

The last time Aanchal spoke to her boyfriend was seven years ago when he had promised her that he would wait.

“Seven years is a very long time. I won’t blame him if he has moved on as there was no way of contacting me,” she said. She is staying at the DCW’s shelter for women at present, but wants to go abroad for her studies.

The DCW is counselling Aanchal and her parents separately and are waiting for the young woman to take the next step. They are prepared to extend all help if she wishes to press charges against her parents.



“I am 32 and ashamed that I allowed my family to take away seven years of my youth”



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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 2:15:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/Seven-years-of-emotional-solitude/article14419165.ece

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