Lucknow/Bareilly: She is a teacher in an English medium school and he was working in a private firm.
They met at a pre-wedding party of a common friend and got talking. They discovered they had common interests and shared views on several issues.
By the time, the party was over, theirs had begun.
The couple, both in their late twenties, kept meeting in cafes for almost a year and then informed their parents about their friendship which they intended to take to the next level.
Aditi (name changed on request) said, “There was initial resistance from our families because I am a Hindu and he is a Muslim. But over a period of convincing, our families agreed. They met each other and we were ready for marriage.”
She continued: “It was on the day of our engagement that trouble began. Just minutes before the engagement ceremony at a local hotel, some people wearing saffron ‘gamchas’ barged in and started shouting slogans. Before we could even comprehend what was happening, the police trooped in and grabbed Usman (name changed) by the collar and started dragging him away. Usman’s father tried to intervene and he was also taken away.”
Talking about the incident, Aditi said that she and her family followed them to the police station where the inspector told them that it was a case of love jihad.
“I kept telling them that we were marrying with our families’ consent but no one gave us a hearing. The drama continued for almost two hours and we were not allowed to call the lawyers because our phones were taken away by the cops. The fringe ‘leaders’ also arrived at the police station and started abusing Usman and his family,” she said.
Usman and his family were detained for more than 28 hours without any FIR.
“The ordeal did not end there. After his release, when Usman went back to office, the fringe leader and his supporters reached there and shouted slogans. They even attempted to manhandle him there. As a result, Usman’s employer politely asked him to put in his papers because they did not want any further trouble,” she said.
While Aditi is continuing with her job, Usman is now jobless.
“It has been almost eight months since this incident took place. We have realized that we cannot get married here and neither can we live in peace. Usman is looking for a job in either Delhi, Mumbai or anywhere outside UP and as soon as he gets one, we will shift and get married there,” she said.
Aditi said that one of her neighbour’s sons belongs to the fringe outfit and when Usman came to visit them after the incident, a group of boys gathered outside her house and began shouting slogans.
Aditi’s mother said, “We agreed to the marriage only because we wanted our children to be happy. We have now asked them to move out of the state and plan their new life. These past few months have been a nightmare for us and for Usman’s family.”