That cross border love will prove to be so thorny for her, Shirley, then a young woman from Maninagar madly in love with her Muslim beau, would have probably never dreamt of even in her wildest dreams. However, the veritable hell that she stepped into after her matrimony is a shocking tale of wretchedness.
It turned out to be the unfortunate woman’s biggest blunder to have accompanied her husband to Karachi believing in his words that his family only wanted to meet his Indian bride. There, she was tortured for 13 years by her husband’s former wife and her sons before the husband ultimately shot her and their eldest daughter dead on January 4.
The world came crashing down on an unfortunate brother Noel Hodges, a resident of Maninagar, when he received a cable from Pakistan government informing him about the death of Shabnam aka Shirley, 5 days late. The concise cable message told Noel that his sister and his niece were killed on Wednesday morning.
“They told me that Shirley Ann aka Shabnam was shot dead by her husband Mohammad Gul Khan, her Pakistani husband, on January 4 at his house in Murgi Khana in Karachi. The Pakistani official also told me that her elder daughter was also killed by Khan. They also added that police have arrested Khan. However, they did not give me any specific details,” said Noel while talking to DNA.
“If my sister and niece are dead, then where are their PM reports? Where are their bodies? I don’t have any clue about the police station which is following the case. They (Pakistan officials) have not given me any of these details” said a distraught and hapless brother, who is also not sure if he can see the bodies of his sister and niece. Both Indian as well as Pakistani governments have allegedly ignored his pleas since last one year, going by what Noel told DNA.
“As she was being brutally tortured in Karachi, I have been asking them (the two governments) to help my sister come back to India. I have been regularly sending e-mails to various departments in the Ministry of External Affairs, Pakistan High Commission in India and also Indian High Commission in Pakistan. But, nothing happened,” Noel lamented.
The aggrieved brother now seeks answer from Indian government for not taking the issue seriously. Her brother resides in Hari Om complex at Krishnabaug in Maninagar and owns a food joint in the area.
Shirley came in contact with Khan during 1997. They had a love marriage in 1998 and stayed in Maninagar till 2000. Shirley converted to Islam and also changed her name to Shabnam Banu. “At that time, Khan showed his Indian passport and claimed that he was only born in Pakistan and that he has been living in India for long. But, as it turned out, Khan was never an Indian,” said Noel.
Shabnam never wanted to go to Pakistan. But Khan told her that his relatives wanted to meet his bride and they will go there only for a visit. With that promise, Khan took Shabnam to Karachi. “When my sister landed in Karachi in 2000, she discovered that her husband already had a wife there and six children. She was locked away in the top floor of her husband’s house in Karachi and beaten up by Khan, his first wife and their sons. From their marriage, Shirley had two daughters — 14 and 9 years of age,” said Noel.
Earlier in December 2012, Shabnam’s story appeared in a Pakistani newspaper which was also published in DNA. At that time, Shirley aka Shabnam was alive and had posted a video on YouTube pleading people to rescue her from that hellish existence. However, before she could be saved, she was shot dead along with her daughter.
Now, an aggrieved brother along with his family members, are planning to take up the issue with both the governments for not listening to the desperate cries of his unfortunate sister.