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On April 25, one Syeda Khatun, alias Soni (24), was allegedly abducted by Birendra Kumar and his aides from Etwa in Uttar Pradesh’s Siddharthnagar, when she had gone to the fields around her home during Ramzan Sehri.
At around 6 am, the accused allegedly called the family and threatened them against lodging a first information report (FIR) and told them to not inform the villagers about the incident. Two days later, the woman reportedly sent messages in Urdu on Messenger from the accused’s account informing the family about her whereabouts in order for them to save her.
After this, the Messenger account sent multiple pictures of Khatun tied up and gagged. The family suspects that she was caught and tortured after the messages were sent.
The accused also sent a picture of Khatun’s fractured leg. The identity of the woman in the picture was confirmed by the family.
Last week, Khatun allegedly called her elder brother, Nafees, asking to be rescued. “I am in Punjab,” she cried profusely as the phone lost connection, her younger brother, Nasim, told The Wire.
The police said that the accused is trying to misguide her family in order to evade legal action. “The woman had eloped earlier with the man some time back when he was a minor, but both of them were caught at the Nepal border. Out of shame, the family had not lodged a formal complaint then and the matter was mutually settled without the involvement of police,” the Etwa police station in-charge told The Wire.
When asked if this is a case of normal abduction, the police officer said, “We cannot ascertain that because the man has not asked for a ransom. Perhaps the pictures of the woman tied up and those of her fractured leg are meant to scare the family, although we cannot confirm if the pictures are of the woman,” the police said.
“We are tracking the Facebook ID from which these messages have been sent. A case under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 366 (kidnapping, abduction or inducing woman to compel her to marry) and 506 (criminal intimidation) has been registered.”
The family has alleged negligence on the part of the police. “It took us ten days to register the FIR after the superintendent of police’s (SP) intervention. The police can trace the ID from which these messages are being sent,” the told The Wire.
When asked about any angle of rivalry between the two families, Nasim said, “They lived a few hundred metres away from our house. We had no previous rivalry. My elder brother had a spat with him (the accused) for uploading and editing pictures of my sister on his social media. In one of his calls, he mentioned that fight and said ‘now do what you can’.”
The family denied the ‘love affair’ angle, saying, “Why are they (the accused) sending pictures of her in captivity and with a broken leg? She has been trying to contact us for help.”