Jaipur: A day after 26-year-old Sheena Choudhary approached the Delhi Commission for Women, accusing her parents of forcing her to get married against her will, she was taken into custody by a unit of the Rajasthan Police. The police was acting upon an allegedly false abduction FIR filed by her parents in Rajasthan’s Dholpur.
Choudhary, a graduate from Miranda House college and the Delhi School of Social Work, was working as a Mahatma Gandhi National Fellow with the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore at the zila parishad in Dholpur. Her parents live in Delhi’s Wazirabad.
She had visited her family during the Diwali break, when her parents arranged a match for her without her consent. She was even forced to meet the man and agree to settle down with him. Upon refusing, she was abused by her mother.
“I have clearly told my family many times that I do not want to get married as I am not mentally prepared for it. I am working and have plans to study further. My family has been exerting pressure to get married,” she wrote in a letter to DCW chief Swati Maliwal.
According to a report in the Indian Express, on November 20, Choudhary reached Delhi and submitted a letter to DCP Eish Singhal wishing not to be traced by her parents.
“My family is forcing me to get married. When I refused, they threatened they would take me away forcefully and stop my job and further studies. Due to the perceived threat, I left Dholpur of my own free will and contacted NFIW (National Federation of Indian Women) for protection. I would like to stress I am safe and do not wish to be sought after or traced by my family,” she wrote.
Further. on November 23, she met Maliwal and later sent her an email addressing the threat from her family.
Meanwhile, her parents through her uncle lodged an FIR at Nihal Ganj police station in Dholpur under charges of kidnapping (363), abduction to compel for marriage (366) and wrongful confinement (342).
The matter was taken note of after social activist Shabnam Hashmi tweeted about it. Choudhary had approached Hashmi just a few hours before the police took her away.
@ashokgehlot51 @SwatiJaiHind @RahulGandhi @thewire_in @PoliceRajasthan @DholpurPolice
Sheena was abducted from near my office around two hours ago. She had approached us , she filed complaint with DCW yesterday. She is 26 years old and take her own decisions . @sardesairajdeep pic.twitter.com/QtPDbT5ths
— Shabnam Hashmi (@ShabnamHashmi) November 24, 2020
Speaking to The Wire, superintendent of police in Dholpur district Kesar Singh Shekhawat said that the social media outrage in the matter is unnecessary. “The woman went missing, which is why her parents lodged an FIR. We traced her in Delhi and she’s on her way to Jaipur.”
He further added that Chaudhary will be produced before a magistrate, where it will become clear whether the woman was abducted by the police or any other person. “We had simply acted on her parent’s compliant. The procedure says that she must be presented before the magistrate where the matter will take its future course.”
DCW tweeted that Maliwal has written to the Rajasthan Police about the matter. “This is a very serious matter. The girl has repeatedly expressed concern for her safety and security and she has alleged that her family may harm her. The girl feels unsafe with her family,” the letter says.
— Delhi Commission for Women – DCW (@DCWDelhi) November 24, 2020
People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in Rajasthan has expressed shock over the incident and condemned the action of the state police. “Rajasthan police will never arrest the accused of crimes against women with such speed but treat young girls who chooses not to marry as an accused,” PUCL said in a statement.
“We spoke to the DGP, IG and SP and told them that the girl needed protection and shouldn’t be presented before her parents. However, they insisted that she is being taken for presenting her before the Magistrate,” it added.
PUCL further said that Rajasthan Police’s action of trying to prevent an adult woman from asserting her right to say no to a marriage is quite similar to Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi Adityanath government, which is denying women the right to choose their partner.