Hindu Woman Who Accused Muslim Man Of ‘Trapping’ Her With False Identity Ten Days Before UP ‘Love Jihad’ Law Vows To Fight Case Till End
Asked if she has heard of the word ‘love jihad’, Neetu Yadav says she heard it only recently. “I don’t watch or read much news, but now I get to hear that many Muslim men do it to Hindu women.”
Ten days before the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 - loosely called ‘love jihad’ law - came into effect, a 31-year-old Hindu woman from western Uttar Pradesh gave a complaint to the police accusing a Muslim man of lying about his marital status, entering into a relationship with her, and forcing her to convert to Islam.
Based on the complaint, the police filed a first information report (FIR) and booked the man named Akram Qureshi, along with his wife Rukhsar and his brother Tanveer, under IPC sections 323 (causing hurt), 342 (wrongful confinement), 506 (criminal intimidation), 376 (rape), 467 (forgery), 468 (cheating), 420 (cheating and dishonesty) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document).
The woman, Neetu Yadav, said in her complaint that she and Akram used to work together in one Rashidiya nursing home in Baraut.
Akram lied to her that he was divorced and entered into a relationship with her, promising marriage. He made physical relations with her for several months beginning January 2020.
When she became pregnant, Akram, with help of his wife Rukhsar and brother Tanveer, forcibly kept her in confinement, where they began to pressure her to abort and also convert to Islam. They also beat her up.
On 17 November, Rukhsar hit her on her stomach after which Neetu begged them to leave her, promising she would go far away from them and get the foetus aborted on her own, says the complaint.
The FIR (number 1001), was filed at Baraut police station of Baghpat district on 18 November, 2020. Akram was arrested, and he continues to be in jail.
During his arrest, Akram told the media that Neetu is lying that he hid his married status from her, and that Neetu knew it all along.
Akram said that Neetu had agreed to live as his second wife but changed her mind later on and was now forcing Akram to divorce his first wife Rukhsar. “I am saying that both can live as my wives. There would be no problem,” said Akram while being pushed into the van by police.
Neetu refutes these claims by Akram. She told this correspondent in this detailed video interview that Akram lied to her not only about his marital status but also his name and faith while “trapping” her.
She met Akram in January 2020 when she joined a private nursing home named Rashidiya in Baraut city as a nurse.
Akram, who was working there as a general physician (Akram is Bachelors in Unani Medicine and Surgery, as per Neetu), approached her, introducing himself as “Aksh”.
As they got talking, he proposed marriage to her, saying he had recently divorced and had a one-year-old son, and that his son would get a mother and Neetu would get a family.
Neetu says she remained indecisive for some time as she had had a divorce two years ago, and was not ready for commitment.
Neetu, a native of Khekra village of Baghpat, got married in 2012 with a man from her Yadav caste in an alliance arranged by her family. The couple got divorced in 2017.
Neetu says it’s because her husband was having an extra-marital affair. The couple had a four-year-old son named Daksh.
Neetu says the child’s custody went to his father as Neetu was unemployed and unskilled. Neetu returned to live with her parents and, the same year, she enrolled in a nursing course in Noida. A year later, her parents “threw her out of the house”.
She narrates: “My father would routinely taunt me that I let my husband get away with the divorce easily. He would say that I should have asked him to pay at least four-five lakhs as settlement. I was against it. I had got around Rs 2 lakh, which I used for paying my nursing course fee. One day, I went to see my son Daksh straight from institute as I had received a call from my ex-husband that he was quite unwell. I had informed my father about it, but he went to police station and gave a complaint that my ex-husband had kidnapped me. He wanted to extract more money from my in-laws.”
“The police brought all of us to the police station. Despite my clarification that I had not been kidnapped, the police kept me in the lock-up for a night. However I should tell you that it wasn’t so bad; I and a policewoman cooked methi pakodas in the kitchen. Anyway, the next day, my father came to the police station and told me I should live separately from then on. I still recall the date – 17 January 2018.”
Neetu began to live in Loni town of Ghaziabad district as she got a part-time nursing job in a local nursing home. She completed her course and, by end of 2019, went to Baraut for a full-time nursing job in Rashidiya on a friend’s suggestion.
“I was an in-house nurse. I was given a small room within the hospital. The job did not involve much interaction with physicians. My interaction with ‘Aksh’ too was limited. When he proposed marriage, I asked for time to think,” says Neetu.
She says that as months passed by, she accepted his offer. She took a room on rent, where ‘Aksh’ would visit her during afternoons. “He never stayed overnight, saying his son was alone at home. I never suspected that he could be lying and still married,” she says.
Neetu says Aksh revealed his true name to her only in June when she got pregnant. “He said he was a Muslim named Akram Qureshi. He said he hid it in order to avoid any caste and religion complications in our relationship,” she says.
“I had been pressuring him to marry me formally. That day, he brought a piece of paper with him, scribbled with a language I did not understand. He said it was Urdu and the paper was a nikahnama. He said he had got it prepared by a Qazi in a mosque, that my name had been changed to Muskan and someone had already signed under my new name in Urdu, so that I did not need to do anything other than keep the paper safely in a locker,” she says.
Neetu says she was surprised, but did not let the revelation unnerve her. She did object to the nikahnama, asking how a marriage could be registered without her even meeting the Qazi. “Akram said this is how things work in his community. He assured me it was only a silly formality. Nothing would change, I am the same Aksh, he told me,” says Neetu.
Neetu says she knows that many people refuse to believe her side of the story, saying it’s impossible for a man to hide his real name and religion for long. “When we were together, we never discussed religion. There was nothing in his behaviour or words that made me suspect he was not who he claimed. We all use Urdu words in our conversation, don’t we?” she says.
“On a television show, a Maulana told the anchor in my presence that a woman in a sexual relationship with a man would instantly learn of his Muslim faith from his circumcised penis. I had an answer to this pathetic statement, but chose not to speak on national television. But I want to say it now: When fully erect, they look the same,” she says.
Neetu says that Akram’s behaviour however began to change from the day when she revealed his true identity.
His visits became fewer and he was no more the sweet-spoken guy he used to be.
They began to have fights and, sometime in October, she learnt that Akram was not divorced but married, and his wife too was pregnant. “I confronted him. He said his wife was as good as divorced as she would stay with her parents most of the time and ignored his son. I asked him to introduce me to his wife nonetheless. One day, after much coaxing, he made me talk to her over the phone.”
“Rukhsar began to abuse me as soon as Akram handed me the phone. She called me a prostitute, and said I was a home-breaker. She asked me to leave Akram. When I said I was pregnant, she said I shouldn’t dare enter her house,” says Neetu.
Neetu says she was shocked at the developments, but helpless. At one point, she even agreed to live as Akram’s second wife in a separate house near Rukhsar’s.
Things, however, turned for worse when she met Rukhsar. “That woman, with help of Tanveer, confined me in her house and beat me up. She told me to abort the child. Akram, on the other hand, had threatened me some weeks ago that I dare not abort the child and if I did, he would beat me up,” says Neetu.
She says she ran away from Baraut and returned to Loni, where she has some friends.
This correspondent first met and interviewed her on 22 November – four days after her FIR and six days before promulgation of UP’s so-called ‘love jihad’ law.
She was broken, without a job and house, unsure of her future, but determined that she would fight the case against Qureshi.
A non-government organisation named Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation gave her Rs 1 lakh to start her own two-bed nursing home as she had wished.
Below is that interview:
This correspondent met Neetu again on 4 January after her nursing home had become operational. She said that Akram was still in jail and had not applied for bail yet.
“His father, Bhoora Qureshi, is calling me up every now and then asking me for ‘compromise’, that is, an out of court settlement,” she said.
“What kind of compromise?” I asked.
“He is offering that Akram could give talaq to Rukhsar and I could live as his only wife.”
“What have you thought?”
“There is no question of doing this. That man has cheated me over and over again. All I want is that he faces consequences of his actions.”
“What else does the father tell you?”
“He says Rukhsar is pregnant and Akram has small children. They need Akram for an income. I told him that he should have thought of all this before playing with my life.”
“Do you feel risk to your life? Could they harm you?”
“No, they won’t touch me as long as this case is under trial. After verdict, no one knows. I could be killed too.”
“Do you feel scared?”
“I don’t. I have seen so much in life already. What is there to be scared about anymore?”
Neetu was headed to a place which was on my way back to Delhi, and I offered her a lift in the cab. On the way, she pointed to roads leading her to her native village, her ex-husband’s village and the police station where she spent a night in custody.
“Whatever happened in my life, has happened within a radius of 20 kilometres,” she said, laughingly.
Asked what he thinks of Akram’s intention behind doing all this, Neetu said she cannot think of any reason other than get her to convert to Islam and live the humiliating life of a Muslim man’s second wife.
Asked if she has heard of the word ‘love jihad’, Neetu said she heard it only recently. “I don’t watch or read much news, but now I get to hear that many Muslim men do it to Hindu women.”
“I am not a simpleton. I can even beat up men,” she says, laughing again. “I got trapped because I wasn’t aware of this trend.”
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