Braveheart fights husband, in-laws to recover Rs 1.5-cr dowry

Cosmopolitan Indian will cringe at the inhuman treatment meted out to this 30-year-old Mumbai woman by her in-laws.

Wedding day
Family of foes: The bride on her wedding day with the Narsarias (from left) sister-in-law Nareeta, mother-in-law Usha, father-in-law Vijay and husband Ashish. Pic/Atul kamble

Right from the day of her marriage until three years later when she sought recourse in law, few days passed by without her importunate in-laws asking her for material goods or hurling barbs, even slaps, at her for the littlest of things. By the time Neeta left the house last year, they had allegedly squeezed Rs 1.5 crore worth of “gifts” from her family.

Parents-in-law Vijay Kumar and Usha Narsaria, her sister-in-law Nareeta Rathe and her husband Ashish
It’s all about the money: The complainant’s parents-in-law Vijay Kumar and Usha Narsaria, her sister-in-law Nareeta Rathe and her husband Ashish

But it’s payback time for them, for Neeta (name changed) is a plucky woman. She has filed a police complaint against her in-laws -- the Narsarias -- for domestic violence and dowry harassment, and is intent on reclaiming the wealth her parents had given her for herself.

In May 2010, Neeta married Ashish Narsaria who claimed to be a diamond trader. In her complaint, she has alleged that her parents-in-law -- Vijay Kumar and Usha -- demanded expensive “gifts for her new house” on various ceremonies. Unable to meet the magnitude of their avarice, she was made to do menial chores -- run needless errands, clean up the house and so forth. In extreme cases, her husband and in-laws battered her for not doing small things, she claimed.

“During petty arguments, I was slapped for no reason. I tried everything in my power to keep them satisfied but they found something or the other wrong in whatever I did. Immediately after my wedding I was made to give up all the ornaments I had worn at the ceremony to my mother-in-law,” Neeta said. “When I couldn’t bear things anymore, I’d write my emotions on a piece of paper and tear it off. I didn’t want to bother my parents as my mother was suffering from cancer.”

Neeta’s family alleged that during her younger sister’s wedding, Ashish’s family made a demand for pricey saris and silver utensils ‘as a mark of respect’.

“During the course of the year I noticed Ashish had a few female friends. I came across text messages and suspect he was having an affair. When I told my mother-in-law, she said there was nothing of that sort and I needn’t worry,” said Neeta.

Meanwhile, arguments in the family continued, and one March day in 2012, after a heated dispute, Neeta was pushed out of the house at 2 am, she said. She has since been staying at her maternal house in Mumbai Central. On June 29 last year, Ashish filed a complaint in the Bandra family court stating that Neeta had fled his house with some valuables. The court directed the couple to go in for counselling.

“When I went to the counsellor, I was told that such cases take 3 to 4 years. Their attitude was very casual. A lot of women cannot afford to go through such long trauma,” Neeta said.

The court’s intervention went on for almost a year until June 14, when her resolve to stand up for herself firmed up. She approached the Nagpada police and lodged an FIR. Five days later, her father-in-law and husband were arrested from their Kandivli house. Her mother-in-law and sister-in-law, Nareeta Rathe, are apparently on the run.

“I had a career but I wanted to settle down and have a family of my own. This thing has shattered me. Now I want to be financially independent but I am not the kind of girl whose life revolved around her career,” she said, adding, “I want to make a suggestion for a clause in the Hindu Marriage Act which makes it mandatory for both the parties to get themselves physically tested. Only after that should they be given the marriage certificate. I have observed that a lot of girls have been duped into it.”

“I will try to extend the period of their custody to the maximum and I will also try recovering all the valuables given by Neeta to her in-laws. A case of domestic violence has been filed and the hearing will be in Mazgaon court on June 24,” said Sujit Shelar, Neeta’s advocate. He added, “We want Ashish to be medically tested to remove any doubts that he is incompetent for a consummate marriage.”

Kantilal Sangoli, Narsaria’s advocate, said, “These are all false allegations against my client. When she left his house she took away all the ornaments with her. My client filed a case in the Bandra family court where she alleged that he is gay. These are all false allegations which we will fight in court.”

>> As per the complainant’s allegations, the following items were given to the in-laws
>> Jewellery worth Rs 96.67 lakh during the marriage
>> Clothes worth Rs 80,000, at various family ceremonies Silver utensils
>> The entire tab of the wedding function at Hyatt Regency in Andheri was also borne by the girl’s father  

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