New Delhi: Pinki, a woman who was forced to go to a shelter home because she was in an interfaith marriage and whose husband was arrested by the police, has told a court that she is an adult, got married of her own free will, and wanted to go back with her husband’s family rather than stay in the shelter home. According to the Indian Express, the court allowed her to do so. Her husband, Rashid Ali, continues to be in jail.
Pinki and Rashid were married five months ago. On December 5, they went to a marriage registration office in Moradabad to have the marriage registered. Once there, they were stopped by Bajrang Dal activists who took them to the local police station. Rashid and his brother, who was accompanying the couple, were arrested.
“I am an adult, I am 22 years old. I got married of my own free will on the 24th of July. This is the fifth month that we have been married,” the woman told the Bajrang Dal members, seen in a video that has gone viral. However, the men continued to talk about Uttar Pradesh’s contentious new ‘anti-conversion’, which has already been used to harass several inter-faith couples.
The police said Pinki, who is three months pregnant, had no proof of marriage, and her parents had complained that Rashid had forced her to convert. In her statement before the magistrate, Pinki reiterated this and said that she was born in 1998, and was thus an adult.
While at the shelter home, Pinki had complained of abdominal pain and been taken to a hospital twice. The doctors said she was observed and the foetus was fine.
The Moradabad police have said they will seek a legal opinion on whether Pinki’s statement, that her and Rashid were married much before the new law came into existence, changes the case against Rashid and his brother. “All details, including Pinki’s claim of nikah and conversion, would be verified. Documents related to the claim would be checked. The police will also get a statement of the girl’s family members and others,” Senior Superintendent of Police, Moradabad, Prabhakar Chaudhary, told Indian Express.
The case against Rashid was the fifth to be lodged in Uttar Pradesh since the anti-conversion ordinance became a law a week ago. Before that, a 21-year-old man was arrested in Bareilly under the love jihad’ legislation while seven persons were arrested and eight booked in Sitapur, while 14 persons were booked in Mau and two charged in Muzaffarnagar.
In recent weeks, BJP-run states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have revealed plans to enact laws to counter “love jihad” – a term coined by Sangh parivar outfits to describe an imaginary Muslim conspiracy to convert unsuspecting Hindu women to Islam.
Uttar Pradesh, which has a significant Muslim population, has been first to pass an ordinance or an executive order to tackle ‘love jihad’. According to the ordinance, a marriage will be declared null and void if a woman converts into a religion solely for marriage. Those wishing to change their religion after their wedding would need to apply to the district magistrate a month in advance.
The state’s cabinet approved the ordinance even though on November 11, the Allahabad high court denounced a judgment by a single-judge bench that chief minister Yogi Adityanath had openly cited as proof that his crusade against ‘love jihad’ had merit.
The BJP-led government in Madhya Pradesh has also said that it is proposing a jail term of ten years for anyone found guilty of using marriage to force someone to change religion.