Inter-religious marriages can still get self-appointed keepers of morality all worked up. And if the ‘offender’ is a public personality, an MLA, that’s all the more reason for the protectors of purity and virtue to get agitated. After 31-year-old Congress MLA from Assam Rumi Nath married Jacky Zakir, 28, a statistical assistant in the social welfare department, the couple were attacked by a mob at a hotel in Karimganj. Reason: he was her second husband, and she hadn’t yet divorced her first. Currently living in the MLA hostel in Guwahati, the couple spoke to Debarshi Dasgupta. Excerpts:
Have you been able to identify some of those who attacked you and your husband?
Rumi: Actually, 16 of them. Jacky and I have prepared a list of these people from the videos of the attack and given their names to the DGP, Assam Police. We have asked for them to be presented for identification so that they can be arrested. Other than rape attempts, I was beaten up for half an hour and can identify each one of them. One of them is Sanjit Paul, a traffic policeman from Karimganj division. He attacked me too and he was wearing civilian clothes that night. As for some Hindu right-wing groups being involved in the attack, it is too early to say anything.
Zakir: The other person we have identified is Vishwa Ghosh, a former district president of the Youth Congress. I have been able to identify him because I am from the same area as him.
"Those behind the attack are jealous of a young, rising woman politician; they want to bring me down." What do you think is the reason behind these people attacking you? At another level, how do you react to the local district Congress committee recommending your expulsion?
Rumi: It is an obvious political conspiracy. I got married on April 13 and have been freely moving around in my constituency. Even that day I was there to oversee flood relief work; people didn’t raise any questions about my personal life. Those behind this attack are people who are jealous of a rising young woman politician and want to bring me down. Marrying twice does not disqualify one from membership of the Congress party. I must say that CM Tarun Gogoi and Assam Pradesh Congress president Bhubaneswar Kalita have condemned the incident and called for strict action.
Zakir: We still do not know why they attacked us. The attackers simply barged into our hotel room and started beating us up without saying anything. We still do not know if we were attacked for marrying each other. We had called the police promptly but they took about 20 minutes to come from a station that’s just a kilometre away. As for the three bodyguards assigned to Rumi, they simply fled.
What happens to your daughter now?
Rumi: I am going to fight for her custody. There is no way the law can keep her away from me.
Do you think it was a mistake not to have divorced your first husband before marrying Jacky?
Rumi: I also now feel that I should have got a divorce. But I am not to be blamed entirely, as I had asked my first husband for a divorce several times; but he was not willing to give me one. You know how difficult it is for a woman in India to get a divorce. He locked me in our house, did not let me contact anyone and even began to attack me physically. That is when I decided to walk out.
What made you decide that you had to get married to Jacky?
Rumi: Having gone through all this, I needed someone to support me. I have known Jacky since January this year. What I really like about him is that he doesn’t care whether or not I am married or have a child. Neither does he love me because I am an MLA. He looks at me just the way I am—Rumi Nath.
Apropos Rumi Nath’s interview (‘Marrying twice does not disqualify me...’, Jul 16), each time the law of the land and civilised social discourse are allowed to be overridden by popular sentiment (backed by implied or actual violence), we lose something precious. A little stiffening of the state’s spine would help.
Ashok Lal, Mumbai
The MLA should have sought advice from Karunanidhi, who deftly balances wives and mistresses. Has anyone beaten him up yet?
Chandru Mani Iyer, Bangalore
Suresh Kamath >> Dharmendra’s second marriage is illegal. His first marriage was under Hindu marriage act. So even if Dharmendra converts to another religion, it does not matter as his wife is still a Hindu, and he was married to her under Hindu marriage act, before he converted to Islam.
The present law is such that Dharmendra cannot be jailed for bigamy, unless his first spouse complains. The same is true of our DMK Supremo M Karunanidhi - he became a bigamist way back in 1968, when he was a PWD Minister in TamilNadu and since then been a 5 time CM of the state and if 2G scam had not occured, he could have been even a VP/Prez by now!
I repeat again, the case here is about Rumi Nath not obtaining a divorce before second marriage. It is not a Hindu-Vs-Muslim Issue. If we had a Rasheeda Begum as a BJP MLA and a Jaikumar instead of Zacky , still it is a prosecutable crime for sure.
Now let us see what should actually be done -
1. Enact a water tight anti bigamy law that declares all past bigamous marriages illegal . Declare that for all existing bigamies, the first married spouse is the legal one (unless not divorced). So, Hemamalini the BJP MP and Rajathi Karunanidhi of DMK will not /should not get a penny as legal heirs.
2. Declare that bigamy is a crime irrespective of religion from one cut off date. Muslims in Tunisia and Turkey have done away with bigamy provisions and same can be done here. And it is a known fact that 95%+ of men across all religions are monogamous so we are talking of a law that will affect only a fraction of men .
PS - Now point 2 will raise the heckles of many folks here and name calling will begin for sure. But I would only wait for another 10-15 years, when same sex marriages will become legal across all Western nations. Soon there will be demand to legalize samein India. But India has different civil code for most religions, so this is going to get interesting.Let us reserve some energy for a future Outlook edition that would thrash this issue threadbare.
Thrivikram Kona >> Only that we as a society seem not to have grasped the issues of individual rights and personal freedoms.
A society that is stepped in feudalism and elects its leaders because they belong to some family and because the leader's grandparents were leaders will never realise the issue of individual rights and personal freedoms. Western countries were as feudal as India till 16th century and that was a time when women were branded as witches and burnt and it was only after French/Industrial revolution post renaissance that things changed .Once feudalism was banished, the concept of individual rights and personal freedoms took over.
Thrivikram Kona >> In the present case, for all practical purposes, the lady in question is not living with her first husband. The legal status of that marriage is a mere formality
The legally correct option is to remove that formality legally (through court sanctioned divorce) and start living/marrying the other guy and legal formalities are there because they must be followed and not be bypassed. If we were to accept bypassing of laws in name of formality, we do not need laws in first place.
>>>Dharmendra did not violate the law. When he married Hema Malini, he ocnverted to Islam and named himself Dilawar (or Dilawar Khan). Just google it.
Dharmendra’s second marriage is illegal. His first marriage was under Hindu marriage act. So even if Dharmendra converts to another religion, it does not matter as his wife is still a Hindu, and he was married to her under Hindu marriage act, before he converted to Islam.
The Supreme Court has said if a Hindu man marries a Hindu Woman under Hindu marriage act. And then converts to Islam merely to marry a second time, the second marriage is still illegal as the first marriage was under Hindu marriage act.
The second marriage under Muslim Law (shariat) is valid only if the first marriage too was under Muslims law
@Ramki, Your statement defies logic. It was a political statement. What Rajiv Gnadhi did was his personal choice.You or I have no right to prevent it, morally or legally. The consequences of his marriage, good or bad, it all took place legally.There was nothing unpreventable in what you bemoan through democratic processes.Just ensure that the majority does not vote for them. In the present case, for all practical purposes, the lady in question is not living with her first husband. The legal status of that marriage is a mere formality. Only that we as a society seem not to have grasped the issues of individual rights and personal freedoms. Instead, we seem to give vent to our suppressed perversions through scapegoating by these symbolic burning of the witches at the social stake. We need these social scapegoating so that we can reconsile with our own sins.You know that even in the prisons they have this moral pecking order. Murderer, paedophile,corruspt politician/bureaucrat,petty thief.Guess who has the moral highground there.
Refer to 18/D-102 by Saroja
The marriage is void and there is no second husband
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