Did Ishrat Jahan, one of the petitioners in Triple Talaq, lie about her divorce?

By Mirza Mosaraf Hossain, TwoCircles.net

Over the past few years, the issue of instant Triple Talaq has been discussed, criticised, debated and analysed a lot. One of the cases which brought the issue to the limelight was that of Ishrat Jahan, who was one of the five petitioners of the Triple Talaq case. However, an investigation into the Talaq has revealed that Jahan, who joined the BJP on January 1, was not necessarily a victim of instant talaq.

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In fact, the investigation conducted by social activist Mohammed Zim Nawaz along with other members of the civil society show that the case of Ishrat Jahan is not actually related to Triple Talaq or Talaq-e biddat, rather it’s something more personal issues of the said petitioners, and that she used the Islamic custom as a shield to safeguard herself from being socially stigmatised.

The real story, however, goes back nearly five years into the past and shows that this was not a simple case of a wife who had been dumped unceremoniously by her husband.

A troubled marriage, but no ‘Talaq’

Ishrat Jahan is originally from Pakri Barwa village of Bihar’s Nawada district where she did her matriculation. Her father is a tailor by profession. She was married to Md. Murtaza Ansari in 2001 who is from Uchitbigha village in Aurangabad district. Murtaza remembers an important moment from their day of marriage. “When we were returning home after the marriage, our car got a breakdown in midway and when everyone inside the car got down, Ishrat was saying she was forcibly married by her parents and that she had not agreed to the marriage,” he recounts.

After three years in his village, Murtaza came to live with his brother, Mustafa Ansari, a school teacher by profession, in a flat in Howrah’s Liluah which they had bought jointly.  Ishrat, who was pregnant that time, also came with Murtaza. Soon, Murtaza left for Dubai. During her stay at Liluah, Ishrat and her sister-in-law did not get along over household matters. Ishrat eventually moved to the village after a few months.

According to Murtaza, the problems between them started to come out in 2013 over her insistence to live in Liluah while Murtaza wanted her to continue living in the village. The reason for his insistence was, in Murtaza’s words, was this:”One day after a quarrel with her, my elder daughter urged that they should stay in the village. when I asked her why she told me Ishrat would leave home for hours and return at around 12 at night. She then told me about one Afrajul, whom her mother instructed to call uncle, and his staying at the Liluah flat three times during my absence at the house. She warned my children with dire consequences if they dare to say anything about this uncle.” Apart from this, Ishrat went to Rampurhat, a town in Bengal’s Birbhum district, to visit with one of the family friends of the Ansari family during the summer vacation of her children in 2013 along with Afrajul as her brother, her daughter told TwoCircles.net.

In 2014, Murtaza had another quarrel with her and that turned into a scuffle. Ishrat lodged an F.I.R at Golabari Police Station, Howrah against him on 24.10.2014 (case no is 1085/2014 under IPC 498(A)). After exactly one month, she got Murtaza released on bail and after that, they started to live in the flat with their children. But within two weeks, she disappeared from the house leaving a handwritten letter, a copy of which is available with TwoCircles.net,  stating ‘take care of my children’, ‘forgive me for I know I am a culprit’, ‘marry someone to take care of my children’ and ‘prepare your divorce paper, I will sign in my convenience,’ repeating the same request ‘ please don’t punish my children for my faults’. Murtaza lodged a missing diary at the Golabari police station and she returned to him after two days from a relative’s home on her own.

Letter from Ishrat in which she said she was leaving and asked her husband to forgive her

But within one year, in 2015, she again vanished from the village home after which Murtaza again tried to lodge a missing diary at the local police station. Though the complaint was accepted, it was not furnished with the official seal. So, he lodged a complaint in the Daudnagar Court where he disclosed everything about his wife. Murtaza shared that Ishrat had left home four times and had not visited his village home since February 10, 2015. Only in the beginning of January 2017, she visited the village home and took away the elder daughter and the younger son to the flat in Howrah after spending some days here and there. She continues lives in that flat.

His elder daughter, who is now 14 years old, talked to TwoCircles.Net. She said, “one Afrajul (Raju), whom mother introduced as our uncle, used to come to our home in our flat in Howrah. He also came to our village three times and during his last visit, he stayed here for five days. On the sixth morning, they left the home leaving us alone.”

When Murtaza came to know about this, he requested a widow in his village to take care of his four children with remuneration per month. She continued for a year. Following this event, he was compelled to return from Dubai for his children and nurtured them for two months. After that, he agreed to marry another girl on the requests of the relatives and neighbours of his village. Till then, there was no trace of Ishrat. But just before the day of his second marriage, Ishrat appeared in the village in the evening with local police to stop the marriage.

When the police came to know that Murtaza was ready to take Ishrat as the wife on the condition that she would be staying at the village, they asked Ishrat to do so. However, she refused and left the place. But next day, she reached the place where he was supposed to get married and revealing herself as Murtaza’s wife, urged the local Maulanas that he was marrying even after having already one wife. So, the marriage was dismissed by the parents of the would-be bride. Later he married a widow on the condition that she would be rearing his children and will not take any child.

In the meantime, Ishrat came back to their residence in Howrah and filed an affidavit in the Judicial Magistrate, 1st Class 5th Criminal Court, Howrah, against her husband, his brother, Mustafa Ansari, Mustafa’s wife, Jabeena Khatun citing domestic violence and Rs 2 lakh cash as dowry from her parents. The case was filed on 14.10.2015 and the Misc case no was 721/2015. But the said Court dismissed the case on March 18, 2017, due to the absence of the petitioner before the court.

Another F.I.R was lodged against Mustafa Ansari in the Golabari police station alleging him of beating her and his attempt to sexual harassment filed on 28.12.2015, F.I.R no-1533, sections-341/323/354/509. In her complaint, she mentioned that Mustafa committed the crimes on December 2 at around 11 am. Interestingly, the persons who were taken as a witness to record their statement with the S.I of Golabari Police Station did not know that they had been made a witness. Also, no police appeared to verify them before preparing the charge sheet and there is no signature of them in the statement that they allegedly gave in favour of Ishrat’s claim. Jasim Hasim, one of the witnesses according to the complaint, said to TwoCircles.Net, “We never knew that my wife (another witness in the complaint) and I were made witnesses of a case against Mustafa Ansari until Mustafa told us. We never made a statement like that and I had left home at 9.00 A.M for my shop at that day. So, the time that is mentioned in the F.I.R and my presence at that time is totally false.”

FIR dated Feb 2016 in which Ishrat names Murtaza as her husband despite saying he had given her Talaq

TwoCircles.Net also has a copy of the Attendance Registry of Mustafa Ansari’s school, which showed that Mustafa had appeared in the school at 10:40 A.M on 2.12.2015. The said police station prepared a final charge sheet (Charge Sheet no- 100/16) on 28.02.2016. This case is under trial in the Howrah Court.

Attendence Registar at Mustafa’s School shows he was in school at the time Ishrat alleged he had assaulted her

Father accused of ‘kidnapping’ kids

On the eve of Eid ul Adha, Murtaza returned from Dubai in September 2017 at his village home and after two days, he came to his Howrah residence. A kidnapping case of her children was filed against Mustafa when Murtaza took them to market for buying some clothes in order to leave for the village. The kidnapping case was filed at the Golabari police station. Police called for Mustafa, who in turn called Murtaza, for the clarification over the kidnapping. The elder daughter and the younger son told the police that they would stay with their father. The Child Welfare Committee at Liluah, Howrah, instructed three daughters to stay with their father as they wished so and advised the minor son to the mother.

Dinanath Paswan, the Sarpanch of Murtaza’s village Panchayat, talked to TwoCircles.Net. He said, “I know Murtaza and his brother personally. They are very good gentlemen and their father was also a good man. We tried to negotiate the scuffle between Murtaza and his wife many times, but it was in vain.”

Speaking to the utterance of Triple Talaq, Murtaza said, “I never said anything like this, either over phone or face to face. I was always ready to take her on the condition that she would be staying in the village, even after two years of her disappearance from my house.” He alleged that the media had distorted the reality and presented him as the accused. In this regard, he said, “when the case came out, all the Media focused on her, there was no one to listen to me. Even some of them listened to me, they refused to publish that. It was unfortunate.”

If they were divorced, why did she not say so in legal cases?

Md Zim Nawaz has revealed important findings in his comparative investigative study of the case. He studied the case minutely from the beginning to the end and concluded that Murtaza never addressed his wife as divorcee anywhere in either in his complaint to the Golabari, Daspura Police Station or in the Daudnagar Court. Rather, he mentioned Ishrat as his legal wife in every document. Besides, Ishrat also never addressed herself as a divorcee of Murtaza in all the cases she filed against him in the said police stations. Nawaz also questioned over the claim of Triple Talaq that Ishrat blamed Murtaza uttered over the phone. He said, “Ishrat claimed that Murtaza uttered Talaq Talaq Talaq over the phone in the month of April 2015. If it was so, then why she did lodge a complaint in the Golabari police station against Murtaza, Mustafa and Jabeen Khatun over domestic violence and dowry?” He continued, “ Ishrat never filed a case against his utterance of triple talaq if it is taken for granted. Rather, in each and every document during her complaints she mentioned Murtaza as her legal husband, even in her F.I.R on December 28, 2015, i.e. six months after the so-called utterance of the triple talaq.”

Nazia Ilahi Khan, the advocate of Ishrat, could not be contacted after several calls. However, this case has made it aptly clear that in case of Ishrat Jahan, there is much more than meets the eye. It is also an example of how in the coming days if the Triple Talaq bill is actually passed and made a law, one can expect several cases of Muslim men falsely accused and punished for an Act which even the Supreme Court said was not ‘punishable’ and instead sought to nullify it.