Samira Jumani, Abu Salem’s first wife, has said that though she has been married to the underworld don for 15 years, she hasn’t spent with him a “single married minute”.
In the first interview given to the Indian media, she told STAR News: “I never led a life that I could say I was married'. People think I lived with him for 15 years, but I didn’t live with him a single married minute.”
STAR News, majority-owned by ABP Ltd, the publisher of The Telegraph, caught up with Samira somewhere in the US before the investigating agencies. An Interpol red-corner notice was issued against Samira as far back as 2000.
Samira is wanted in India for passport forgery, just as Monica Bedi, Salem’s companion, possibly wife, is. All three had passports issued to them from Hyderabad, using fake names. Samira had used the name Neha Asif Jafri.
Driving a Toyota towards the airport, Samira describes, in English and Hindi, what it is to be a gangster’s wife as she distances herself clearly from her husband, whom she possibly married twice, once as a minor and once as an adult.
“He was never a family person' I never led a life I would say I was married,” she says, only the right side of her face ' that suggests chubby cheeks ' visible as she is shot from the back of the car.
Asked about the interview, the CBI said it would not comment without verifying the identity of the person being described as Samira.
Explaining why it was never really a marriage, she says: “Saath humne kabhi khana nahin khaya (we didn’t have a single meal together).”
She reveals that the man she married as a minor against her parent’s wishes did not even tell her once he loved her. Not even at the time of forcibly marrying her when she was 17'
“Kabhi nahin,” Samira answers. “But he told me, ‘pyar nahin karta to shaadi karta (would I marry you if I didn’t love you)'’”
What then kept her quiet and in the marriage' The physical abuse she had to suffer and the threat to her family from the “bhai”. “The physical abuse was too much. I’ve gone through a lot of that.”
While talking about the torture, Samira breaks down. “Even Monica has gone through a lot' shayad jitna usne do saal mein dekha, maine 15 saal mein multiplied by two dekha (what Monica has seen in two years, I’ve seen twice of that),” she sobs.
At least here she does not reveal any bitterness towards Monica who came in contact with Salem about eight years ago. For the past three years, however, they have been separate after the Portugal government arrested them for travelling with forged papers.
According to STAR News, Samira is 5ft 3in tall and their son is eight years’ old. She doesn’t talk about her son so much beyond saying that Salem possibly did not want any children.
“He would say ‘main apna dekhoon ya bacche ko dekhoon (do I take care of myself or children'’ He did not even bother to come to his son’s first birthday, which was not attended by a single person from the underworld.”
She speaks of the days after the 1993 Bombay blasts and her only encounter with Dawood Ibrahim. Samira says she wasn’t told anything, but only overheard conversations among servants. “But I could put two and two together. He was told not to go out right after the blasts. Then after a few days he disappeared.”
One day, Dawood’s men came for Salem’s photo. “I said ‘eight of you have come for one person’s photo'’”
When Dawood’s aides enquired about Salem’s whereabouts, “I asked them, ‘do you tell your wife what you do' Then why do you drag the women into your affairs'’ After that the calls stopped and no one disturbed again.”
Later, she says, Dawood and Salem patched up.
There have been reports that Dawood and Salem had broken up at some point of time, but when she talks of a patch-up she may be referring to a period before that.