Mumbai’s Veer-Zaara story may be heading to its climax. After being booked and arrested for smuggling the love of his life out of Saudi Arabia on forged documents nine years ago, a Nerul man had his case heard for the first time at the 37th Esplanade court yesterday.

Also read: Real life Veer-Zaara from Mumbai wait for a happy ending

Hidayat Khan and Banwa outside Esplanade court yesterday. Pic/Emmanual Karbhari
Hidayat Khan and Banwa outside Esplanade court yesterday. Pic/Emmanual Karbhari

mid-day had reported on July 4 ('Real life Veer-Zaara from Mumbai wait for a happy ending’) about Hidayat Khan, 37, a contractor from Navi Mumbai, who had fallen in love with Banwa, a Saudi Arabian national, while working in the country. He had smuggled Banwa into India in 2005 and the couple was arrested soon after, based on a complaint by Banwa’s family to the Saudi Arabian authorities.

While the couple were released on bail and had four children in India, the fate of Banwa’s nationality is yet to be decided by the Indian judiciary. This, despite the current Saudi Consul General, Abdullah Saliman Al Eisa, writing to the Mumbai police on June 23 to rescind the case and let Banwa live in India.

mid-day’s report on July 4
mid-day’s report on July 4

“Months before my arrest, I visited senior cops and informed them about my wife’s travel to India and the facts about by marriage. One day, they registered an FIR and put both of us behind bars without any intimation,” said Khan

“My wife was seven months pregnant when she was arrested. Though she was granted bail shortly on humanitarian grounds, I was released only after 66 days. I could not be around for her first pregnancy and the baby was delivered the day after I was released,” he added.

Yesterday, in the first effective hearing after the charges were framed by the court, an inspector from the Detection of Crime Branch (CID Crime Intelligence Unit), who is also a complainant in the case, was examined by senior advocates R F Lambay and A P Shahani in the case, nine years after the FIR was filed. Since the time of their arrest, Khan hired several lawyers, but no one could help him and his wife cross the legal hurdles.

“I have spent several lakhs till date in legal fees. I sold all my belongings and spent all the money that I had earned from my job in Saudi Arabia. I saw the worst days of my life between 2005 and 2008. Thankfully, my wife has been very supportive and she has stood by me through thick and thin. She survived on daal and roti to gather our legal expenses,” said Khan.

Banwa says the kids miss their maternal grandparents. “My children have grown now. They do not know about out legal hassles but they keep asking about their grandparents. I console them saying that they live in another country and they cannot come to India.” The couple have four children: Reenal (8), Riyam (6), Ridan (4) and Khulund, who is 15 months old.

According to the Khans, Banwa’s family was very upset with their marriage in the beginning and did all they could to stop the marriage, including complaining to the Saudi Arabian authorities, and even getting him kidnapped. “I was kidnapped by some men in Sewri and they asked me to send my wife back to her country.

They claimed to be underworld gangsters, but I stood firm on my decision. I have fought against all odds for the love of my life. Even Saudi Arabia has given us clearance, but my own country is now against me and is making me run around,” Khan said.

Separation from her family has always kept bothered Banwa. “My parents have almost come to the terms with my marriage, but society will never agree. I have not seen my family for ages. They have been asking me to visit them in Saudi Arabai, but I cannot do so, because my passport is stuck in court. My only connection with them for nearly a decade has been through the phone”.