A Portuguese man, jailed in Bangalore for 52 days on a dowry charge, was not even allowed to contact his consulate. He has finally come out on bail.
Jaime Periera De Soure Bento (48) can’t believe he was hauled up for seeking dowry, a crime he has no clue about.
“In Portugal we have the word doth for mothers presenting clothes to their daughters before a wedding,” he told Express, as he walked out of the central prison at Parappana Agrahara on Saturday. “But I don’t know anything about dowry.”
De Soure Bento, who describes Indians as “nice and friendly”, says he does not feel safe in India as he was not given a chance to prove his innocence.
His wife, also a Portuguese national, filed a dowry harassment case against him on his arrival about two months ago, following which he was picked up by the police.
De Soure Bento was released on bail last week. In 52 days, he has lost 14 kg and is now wondering what the case was all about.
The 10th Additional City Civil Court (ACMM), which granted him bail on December 6, said there was no material to show he was a habitual offender or a convict.
Advocate Suraj Thomas argued De Soure Bento’s case.
“You should at least know why you are jailed. In my case, I didn’t know why I was jailed,” De Soure Bento said.
Inside the Parappana Agrahara jail, he met two men convicted for smuggling drugs. A couple of others were serving sentences for murder.
De Soure Bento’s wife, who is in India, has accused him of harassing her for dowry. Indian laws provide for the arrest and imprisonment of men and their families demanding dowry.
He says he now has two choices. “I am a man and I am a Christian. As a man I think of revenge and negative things. As a Christian, I want to forgive and move on,” he said.
De Soure Bento spent all 52 days in jail in the same clothes as he did not have a spare set.
“I used to wash my clothes at night and wear them in the morning,” he said. “Back home, the weather is 10 degrees (Centigrade), so I could manage these nights without clothes.”
De Soure Bento says he did not come to India to threaten his wife, as she might have suspected.
“I am not a fool to fly down 12,000 km to threaten her. I came here to talk to her and get a divorce,” he said.
De Soure Bento has a 78-year-old mother back in Portugal and two young sons.
His son has found a job for him and the family is waiting for him to return, he said.
consular Intimation: Whose Job is It?
M C Vishwanathaiah, DIG (Prisons), said it was the job of the jurisdictional police to intimate an embassy or consulate when a foreign national was arrested. “There is also provision for those detained to write to their families or contact their families,” he said. The Portuguese Embassy reportedly got in touch with De Soure Bento only 15 days before his release. When Express asked why De Soure Bento had not been able to contact anyone, Vishwanathaiah said he would have to look into the jail records.