1. Home
  2. India
  3. Cross-Border Couple Separated By Law

Cross-Border Couple Separated By Law

Arjun and Anila Sharda have been married for the past three years but cannot live together till Anila, a Pakistani, gets Indian nationality, reports the Delhi tabloid Mail Today.The reason is the enforcement of the
PTI September 19, 2010 11:56 IST
PTI
Arjun and Anila Sharda have been married for the past three years but cannot live together till Anila, a Pakistani, gets Indian nationality, reports the Delhi tabloid Mail Today.

The reason is the enforcement of the Foreigners ( Protected Areas) Order in the border district of Barmer in Rajasthan, where her husband and in- laws are based.

The duo got married on April 4, 2007 and according to the Indian Citizenship Act, Anila becomes eligible for Indian nationality only seven years after this date. So, 28- year- old Anila, a qualified MBBS doctor from Hyderabad in Pakistan, lives in Jodhpur with her two- year- old son and cannot visit her husband or his family in Barmer till 2014.

Arjun, 30, on the other hand, cannot shift to Jodhpur because he is employed in Barmer. He is the territory manager of SBI Life Insurance in the district and visits his wife and child over the weekend.

The couple wants to get together and cites the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956, which says that a legally wedded Hindu couple cannot be forced to live separately. “ More than that, it's a humanitarian request to whomsoever concerned, that couples like us should be allowed some concession to get together,” says Arjun.

Arjun and Anila had an arranged mar- riage. Anila is the neighbour of Arjun's uncle's family in Hyderabad.

“ That's how our match was fixed. We also originally hail from Sindh. My father, Govardhan Das Sharda, came to India to study around the time of Independence. He got married to my mother who is from Jodhpur and stayed on in India. So, we became Indians. But his elder brother, Manik Lal Sharda, continued to live in Hyderabad and so, a part of our family is Pakistani,” informs Arjun.

After their marriage was fixed, Anila came to Jodhpur with her parents where they stayed for a month before the wedding. Her parents went back but she had to stay on in Jodhpur as she couldn't enter Barmer.

The couple's families were aware of the difficulties their cross- border alliance would face but even they had not anticipated the intensity of the troubles. For instance, finding an accommodation for Anila in Jodhpur meant lying about her identity. Besides the personal problem, Anila is also bothered about the blow that her career as a medical professional is enduring. “ I'm a doctor and if I don't practise, my career will be finished. And till I become an Indian national, I cannot get employment in any hospital,” she says.

Though Anila cannot travel to any place outside Jodhpur, she can go to Pakistan and has done so a couple of times since her marriage.

Local activist Mukesh Mathrani of the NGO, SURE, has helped highlight the couple's plight. “ There are many more such couples in the border districts who have married across the border. But once they come to India, their careers and personal lives come to a halt,” says Mathrani.