‘It’s my right to seek justice’







“I am from Gwalior and by the time I was 21 and doing my Masters, I was ready to get married to the man my family chose for me. This was in 2001. His family was extremely close to my mother’s family; in fact she had seen my husband grow up right in front of her eyes. Tarun Khanna lived with his mother in Pune and with all three of his sisters married and well-settled, to everyone it looked like a good match. But when I look back now, I would give anything to escape the future that awaited me had I known.”

‘Dowry demands started soon after our wedding’
“We were to leave for our honeymoon and I witnessed how one of the sister’s began harassing my father for more and more money and that too for random and very costly things- she asked thousands for photo albums, closets, our double bed and even the mattresses! I left feeling slightly perturbed but came back more positive, of course I had no idea then that the best was already over. A month later I found out I had conceived during the honeymoon. The news did not make my husband or his family happy. They wanted me to abort the kids but when I was told I am carrying twins, I said a firm no to the abortion. That decision started a long period of hostility, verbal assaults, physical neglect and mental torture.”

‘Their intention was to leech off my parents forever’
“The first salvo from their side came two months after I had decided to keep the babies- my husband left his job with no intention of going back to look for another, that’s when I had my first panic attack. The demands started and money from my family started to pour in- for food, vaccinations, medical bills. Before I could recover from how shamelessly they had started leeching my parents I discovered that Tarun never had the qualifications, the job, the salary or even the vehicle they had flashed in front of us for so long.”

“From soaps, to cooking oil, to expensive gifts from Gwalior, my family kept hauling it all at their demand- all in the hopes that they would start to treat me better. Even after I collapsed from weakness, hunger pangs and anxiety at the hospital, I was given stale food, sometimes even adulterated food that thankfully the house help advised me not to touch.”

‘He would make me roll down on the floor and touch his mother’s feet with a swollen belly in exchange for letting me stay in the house’
“During all this, Tarun played the dutiful son even when I was hit and abused by his mother.
One night they just pushed me out and locked the door as I sat wailing into the night nearly eight months pregnant. A few hours later I was let in. I started to feel contractions and was taken to the hospital on my insistence (after I hid some money and jewellery in the diaper bag). I gave birth prematurely.”

“My mother rushed to be with me from Gwalior. This was the first time she understood how badly I was doing. Even as I lay bleeding in the hospital bed, my children struggling in the neo natal ICU, and a diabetic parent from out of town- none of the family came to even look at us, much less get us food or anything else. Soon I developed complications from my surgery, and since it all cost a lot, I was packed off to my parent’s house in Gwalior. I was not called back from there for months and when my parents and I landed at their doorsteps, the family demanded that my parents and I touch each and everyone’s feet before they would let me step in.”

‘I was sent back to my husband time and again for my future – because now I had two children’
“My parents are conservative and our community even more, so although in retrospect they regret the collective humiliation we faced, at that time my father told me to go back and try to make it work, even as he continued to help me financially and emotionally.”

“After a few more months I was once again packed off to Gwalior when money from my side started to peter out with the condition that I was acceptable only after a payment of 20 lacs to Tarun and his family. On 23rd May 2004 we filed an FIR under IPC Section 498A which is non-bailable, non- compoundable and cognizant section for dowry harassment. We filed it against Tarun Khanna, his mother Lalita Khanna and the rest of his family that had hit me, abused me and finally abandoned me.”

“My husband was apprehended and spent a week in jail – the rest of the family was absconding. In a moment of weakness that I regret till date, on the intervention of the extended family, I was once again sent to live with him under court orders for a 6 months trial period.”

‘He tried to kill me and my sons’
“During these 6 months, from having me attacked by goons to constant threats to kill me and the children, sell us off, crush us under vehicles – he did everything to show me finally that my sons are never going to have the father I wanted for them. The last blow was when on Diwali my twins came to me saying, ‘Papa keeps talking about a big blast for us’, interpreting wrongly their father’s menacing threats to blow them up in the evening.”

“I left for good and vowed never to let money, exhaustion, community pressure or even the children come in between my battle against this man. At least on three occasions he has forfeited on payment for childcare and I have got him arrested under Section 125C Order for Maintenance. I have stood with my children in courts, collected evidence, testimonies and demanded justice. But I still had to do an out of court settlement with Tarun as threats of hurting my children wherever I went, kept looming. But I still have a dowry harassment case in Gwalior court against him and await justice every day. I hope Tarun and his deceitful greedy family will be behind bars soon.”

‘I will find love someday’
“I am made to feel like I have committed a crime by fighting for justice, but I know I am right in my demand to live a dignified life. I have acquired my Bachelor of Education degree recently and look forward to a career in education. I am also very hopeful about my future- I look forward to marriage and lots of love in my life.”

If you or someone you know is stuck in a similar situation, what should you do?




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