A Hindu woman who eloped and married a Muslim man eight years ago against her family’s wishes, has filed a police case against him for giving her instant talaq over her refusal to convert to Islam.
The Madhya Pradesh police have booked the man under the anti-triple talaq law and anti-forced conversion law, along with anti-Scheduled Castes (SC) atrocity law as the woman belongs to Khatik jaati, which comes under SC castes.
The man has been arrested while his parents, also named in the FIR, are allegedly absconding.
What The FIR Says
A first information report (FIR) in the matter was registered at Kareli Police Station in Kareli town of Narsinghpur district of Madhya Pradesh on 25 March (number 304/2022).
In her complaint, the victim, Purnima Dhani, said that on 21 July 2014, she eloped with a man named Farooq Khan to marry him. Farooq lived a few colonies away from Purnima’s house. He used to follow her on her way to college on his motorcycle before they got talking and eventually fell in love.
Purnima had completed school and was in second year of her degree college. She went on to have two children with Farooq — both daughters, now aged three and five. Before marriage, Farooq assured her that religion would not come in the way of their relationship. He told Purnima she would never have to convert to Islam and follow the Islamic ways. However, all this changed after marriage.
Farooq’s mother Shaheedan began forcing her to give up her Hindu faith and adopt Islam. Shaheedan told her that Purnima had automatically become a Muslim by marrying Farooq and must follow the Islamic ways of worship.
When she resisted, Shaheedan made her life miserable by constantly taunting her for not bringing any dowry. Shaheedan also began brainwashing her son into distancing from Purnima, saying his wife is of suspicious character.
Farooq’s father Peer Ali supported his wife in harassing his daughter-in-law.
Purnima took it all in her stride for the sake of her two daughters. As she had married against her parents’ wishes, she had no option but to make her marriage work. Her in-law family harassed her even more on days considered holy among Hindus. During Navratri, they would bring meat to the house and force Purnima to cook and eat it. This happened at every Hindu festival.
On the night of 24 March 2022, Farooq and Shaheedan came to Purnima’s shop (she runs a footwear stall) and Farooq uttered the words ‘talaq talaq talaq’. He told Purnima he did not trust her loyalty towards him. He said he was not sure who had fathered the two daughters.
When Purnima pleaded with him to be allowed to stay in the house, Farooq demanded she must undergo ‘halala’. Farooq and Shaheedan assaulted her when she opposed them. They kicked her out and told her that if she wanted her marriage to stay, she should either become Muslim or bring Rs 2 lakh from her parents.
Purnima called up her brother Priyansh, who came and took her home.
Based on this statement, the police booked Farooq, his mother Shaheedan and his father Peer Ali under IPC sections 498A (harassment of a woman), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (act done by several people), along with sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and sections 3 and 5 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2021. Additionally, the police have invoked section 4 of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 and section 3(2)(va) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
What The Police Say
This correspondent called up Kareli Town Inspector, Akhilesh Mishra, on 5 April. He said that Farooq Khan was arrested the same day the FIR was filed.
He said that Shaheedan and Peer Ali had not been arrested yet, as they are absconding.
He said the victim recorded her statement in front of the magistrate under section 164 of the CrPC two days after the FIR was registered. He said he was not able to recall the date.
The Victim’s Version As Told To Swarajya
This correspondent talked to Purnima over the phone last week. Initially, she seemed reluctant to talk. She said she was stressed about her video statement having gone viral on social media. She said the entire Kareli town now knew about her which was a matter of shame for her.
However, she began talking and said she indeed wanted to share her story in detail.
Purnima was in second year of her degree college when she met Farooq. She noticed he had been following her on his motorcycle to her college for a few days. “I still remember it was a Pulsar,” she says.
He approached her to talk. He did not hide his name or identity and introduced himself with his real name, she says. They began talking often and she soon fell in love.
Farooq stays in Ganesh Ward of the town while Purnima stays in Lakshminarayan Ward of the town, only a kilometre away.
Her parents learnt of their relationship and were strictly against it. Purnima eloped with Farooq. She called up her parents the same day and informed them they must not try to find her.
Farooq’s family not only knew about the relationship but supported the couple’s decision to elope and get married.
For a month after she went with Farooq, the couple stayed at his married sister’s house in a town about 50 km away from Purnima’s house. She had no problem with Farooq or his sister during that time, she says.
Her life turned upside down when she shifted to Farooq’s house. She was given a new name — Aisha. Her marriage to Farooq had happened by merely signing on a piece of paper written in Urdu — a language she did not read.
Farooq’s mother Shaheedan made her life miserable early on. “She began asking me to give up all my old ways. Of being Hindu. She would constantly ask me to become a proper Muslim,” says Purnima.
Shaheedan forced her to sit for namaz several times in the day. When, after many attempts, Purnima failed to learn the prayer in Arabic, Shaheedan forced her to emulate her in the manner of prayer. “No matter what I was doing, I would have to run and sit with her for namaz, and follow what she did. Even if my infant daughter was crying, I could not miss this ritual. In every session, she would humiliate me for my lack of knowledge of Islamic ways,” she says.
When she told Farooq, he said his mother was doing the right thing. Purnima was shocked.
“The question of religion had cropped up once or twice during the time of courtship. Farooq would tell me lovingly that I would not have to change anything in my lifestyle. I was convinced that our relationship was beyond the barrier of religion,” she says.
Purnima says that when Shaheedan realised that Farooq supported his mother instead of her, she began harassing Purnima even more. “She really went after me. She began taunting me that I had fallen for the motorcycle and was of suspicious character,” says Purnima.
“She [Shaheedan] would tell me, ‘abhi toone motorcycle wala dhoonda hai, ab car wala dhoond’ [you have found a man with a motorcycle. Now look for a man with a car].”
Purnima says that Farooq joined his mother in hurling such accusations and jibes at her. “Shaheedan taunted me for coming to her house empty-handed. She said if Farooq had married in his community, she would have a Muslim daughter-in-law as well as dowry. Farooq supported her,” says Purnima.
Farooq began to accuse Purnima of cheating him with other men. Shaheedan began to ask Purnima to leave her house and return to her parents.
“It was a ridiculous accusation. I would hardly step out of the house. I would remain confined inside doing all the housework and listening to my mother-in-law’s jibes. Even my father-in-law was no less. He would say the meanest things to me,” she says.
Her first child delivery remains a traumatic experience for her. “No one in their family was with me at the time of my delivery. Farooq came only in the night and left in the morning. If I had to go to toilet or a grocery store, I would hand over my infant daughter to the family of another patient. When I returned home a few days after the delivery, I was made to wash not only my clothes but all the dirty clothes at home,” she says.
At this point, Purnima broke down. She told this correspondent, “I left my parents to live with him. I suffered all the humiliation of running away from home. I tried so hard to make my marriage work that I kept on making sacrifices for eight years. I hoped that one day, I would be able to win the heart of my mother-in-law and she would stop brainwashing my husband against me. None of this happened. I went through hell.”
Purnima says Farooq runs three businesses, either alone or in partnerships — a tent house that rents tents for weddings and functions, a shop that sells blankets and mattresses, and agriculture on a plot of five acres his family owns.
Despite the wealth, Purnima lived in penury. “He would not give me even a penny. In all these years, I cannot recall one gift from him. I never bought any dress or jewellery for myself,” she says.
After the birth of her two daughters, Purnima opened a small shop to sell footwear. “It wasn’t even a shop but a roadside stall. I wanted money to sustain my daughters. He never gave me any money,” she says.
“I bought some pairs of footwear from ‘Bombay Boot House’ in Kareli and stocked them. I bought them on credit. That’s how I was able to earn something and provide for my daughters.”
Purnima says Farooq is alcoholic and a womaniser. He would come home drunk every other night and boast of his other relationships to Purnima. He would frequently demand sex from her. No matter how much she protested, saying she was not in the mood or unwell or had to tend to her daughters, he never listened to her and always forced himself on her, she says.
Purnima says she is still struggling to understand why Farooq had promised her the moon before marriage if he planned to ill-treat her later. “My Hindu brothers [activists] tell me I am a victim of love jihad. Maybe they are right,” she says.
“Farooq has not fulfilled even one promise out of the many promises he made to me before marriage. At that time, he made me feel I am beautiful and precious to him,” she says.
Purnima says there was no specific trigger for the instant talaq on the night of 24 March. “I was at my footwear stall. I was sitting alone with no customers when they came. My mother-in-law began screaming, without caring for neighbouring shops, that I was a curse to her family. She said she would see to it that I am out of her house,” says Purnima.
Farooq told her he always suspected her of bad character, and he could not be sure that he was indeed the father of Purnima’s two daughters.
Purnima says it was not the first time Farooq had pronounced ‘talaq talaq talaq’ to her. He had done it earlier, soon after birth of her second daughter.
Much to her relief, Farooq let her inside his house and did not force her to undergo ‘halala’.
Despite the abuses, Purnima closed her stall and headed for Farooq’s house that night. He stopped her at the gate. She argued and was beaten up. “Farooq told me to go back to my house and come back only after ‘halala’ is done. Didi, even if I fulfil this condition, a life of hell awaits me at his house,” Purnima told this correspondent.
She is currently at her maiden house.
Her brother Priyansh declined to talk to this correspondent.
Purnima’s two daughters are still at Farooq’s house.
“I am worried for them. Farooq doesn’t love them. At all.”
(The report has been edited by Swati Goel Sharma)
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