ANDHRA PRADESH

Married to misery: Wakf Board unmoved

J.S. Ifthekhar

Many a damsel lands in distress after tying the knot with a foreigner

Hyderabad: Marriage to overseas Indians is considered a gateway to bliss. But it is not always so -- not at least in the case of poor Hyderabadi women. Many a damsel has landed in distress soon after tying the knot.

The misery has gone beyond measure -- Ameena, Kaneez, Aasia. The Arab fairy tale continues to go awry. Poor parents, fabulous Shaikhs and innocent brides. Sameena Begum and Nazia Begum are the latest in this sorry saga. Except for some conscious citizens, others seem to take it in their stride. As for the Wakf Board, such things do not trouble it.

Duped

In the recent instance the police arrested two marriage brokers and two qazis on the charge of duping the girls into marrying two insane Omanis -- Salem and Yousuf. But the Wakf Board has not reacted. "We simply issue marriage certificates. We don't conduct marriages nor have any say in the appointment of qazis," say board officials.

Following the marriage of a 60-year-old UAE national to two teenaged girls in 2004, there was a flurry of activity. The Wakf Board decided to ask the qazis not to straightaway perform `nikah' of foreigners, especially those hailing from Gulf countries. Only after a thorough enquiry should such marriages be solemnised. Another suggestion was to insist on production of age certificates by Muslim girls intending to wed foreigners. It was also proposed to direct the qazis to alert the Wakf Board whenever they are asked to perform a `nikah' involving foreign nationals.

No action

Good suggestions. Only, they remain on paper. The Board has not taken any steps to implement them. Why is it dithering? Board's CEO S.M. Madar has no answer. "The board cannot be held responsible if the marriage is performed with willingness on both sides," says an official.

The Central Qazi Act of 1880, it is said, needs to be amended giving more teeth to the Wakf Board in matters of marriage. At present it is the Government that appoints and removes the qazis. The board's decision to insist on its permission before marriage of foreign nationals is challenged in the court by a qazi.

And meanwhile the gulf of despair keeps widening.