Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gulf News (UAE): Ditched Afghan girl pursues Indian husband

Ditched Afghan girl pursues Indian husband
By Amrit Dhillon, Correspondent
Published: January 24, 2009, 00:31

New Delhi: A young Afghan woman has arrived in India to confront the Indian army officer who married her two years ago in Kabul and then dumped her a fortnight later.

Sabra Ahmadzai, 20, was working as a Hindi translator in an Indian army hospital in Kabul where she met Major Chandrashekhar Pant, a doctor posted at the hospital.

"He was very keen to marry me but my parents were hesitant because he is a Hindu. He persuaded them to let me marry him and converted to Islam for my sake," she said.

Ahmadzai arrived in the Indian capital in December to be reunited with her husband only to discover that he is married with two children.

She says that after Pant - or 'Himmat Khan' as he became after his conversion - left Kabul, he called her regularly. The calls tapered off and then stopped.

Her neighbours and relatives began taunting her that she had been 'a holiday wife', ditched by a man who did not love her. Men began jeering, asking if they could also spend a fortnight with her.

"I decided that life wasn't worth living. The shame was terrible. I had to find out what had happened and why he was behaving like this. I took leave and came here to find him," she said.

After flying to New Delhi, she made a two-day bus journey to Pithoragarh in north India where Pant lives with his family and works at the local hospital.

When she confronted him, she gave him two options: let me live with you here or return to Kabul with your family and we'll all live together.

It seems that Pant refused both options and instead offered her financial compensation. "I refused his money. It maddened me to think he could buy me off. I have decided I will fight him in the courts to get justice," said Ahmadzai who is being helped by New Delhi lawyer Ravinder Garia.

Garia says Pant can be charged with bigamy. Ahmadzai has already filed a complaint with the police charging him with this offence.

Garia also wants the Indian Army to fire him. "His behaviour is unbecoming. He is an educated man who knows the law. He knew he was committing a crime. He has been dishonest and deceitful," he said.

Pant refuses to speak to the press but reporters say in the initial meetings, his wife was contemptuous towards Ahmadzai and quote her as saying "such women know how to trap men like my husband".

Mobeen Alam, an Afghan student in New Delhi, said he felt sorry for Ahmadzai because her position in Afghan society as an abandoned wife is pitiful. "She will find it hard to remarry. She made a mistake marrying a foreigner but we need to punish her husband so that other men don't do this to other girls," said Mr Alam.

Ahmadzai says that she will not rest until her 'husband' has been punished. "I have been suffering for months while he's been happy in his life. He hasn't even said sorry to me," she said.

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