Lucknow/New Delhi, Jan. 2: Fifteen months after a panchayat of clerics decided, live on national TV, which of her two “husbands” had the stronger claim on her, Gudiya died quietly today at a Delhi hospital.
Doctors at the Army Research and Referral Hospital said the 22-year-old succumbed to septicaemia about three months after delivering a still-born child.
Gudiya had never recovered from the trauma of watching her private shame ' a tug of war over her between the two men in her life ' paraded before the nation and had been in poor health since, her family said at Kalaunda, Uttar Pradesh.
Gudiya’s life was turned upside down in August 2004 when her first husband Mohammed Arif ' an army sapper who went missing during the 1999 Kargil war and was given up for dead ' returned from a Pakistani jail. Gudiya, who had married cousin Taufiq after waiting for nearly four years, was then eight months’ pregnant.
Arif, who had been called to the front just 10 days after his wedding, demanded she leave her second husband of 18 months and return to him.
Gudiya’s private embarrassment turned to public humiliation when an Islamic “panchayat” at Naurangabad, near Arif’s village Mundali in Meerut, summoned her to decide her fate.
TV channels beamed the proceedings live and audiences sent in their solutions via SMS, but Gudiya, looking sombre and ill, spoke little except what she seemed to have been tutored to say. The daylong drama ended in victory for Arif.
Gudiya, the cameras chasing her for days afterwards, needed to be taken to hospital, put on a drip and treated for fever and stress.
She gave birth a month later. “Ever since delivering Taufiq’s son at Arif’s home, she had kept brooding,” a family member said. She also developed anaemia.
Arif, after initial reluctance, had agreed to accept his wife with the unborn baby ' with a caveat that he might send the child back to Taufiq after he grew up. But the couple were eager to have another child quickly as proof of the “success” of their reunion.
Because of her chronic anaemia and bouts of depression, doctors advised constant medical supervision. Arif, his neighbours said, regularly took her to the army hospital in Meerut, but she miscarried in September.
That led to gynaecological complications. She was admitted to the Meerut hospital and, after three months, shifted to the Delhi referral hospital.
Two weeks on, the woman who embodied in a single life the poignancy of war, separation and motherhood, and the agony of social victimisation and public shame, has now taken her side of the story ' untold -- to the grave. Gudiya will be buried in Mundali.
Arif’s relatives in Meerut said he had been with her all along. “Her death has come as a crushing blow to him,” brother Latif said.
There was no reaction from Taufiq’s family, who live in Pataudi, Haryana.