Chhattisgarh: A Family’s Struggle To Get Their Daughter Back From ‘Love Jihad Trap'

Chhattisgarh: A Family’s Struggle To Get Their Daughter Back From ‘Love Jihad Trap'

by Swati Goel Sharma and Subhi Vishwakarma - Monday, May 30, 2022 05:18 PM IST
Chhattisgarh: A Family’s Struggle To Get Their Daughter Back From ‘Love Jihad Trap'Vandana Verma with her husband Purshottam & daughter Mokshika
  • According to the girl's mother, they are not able to contact her anymore and are worried for her.

An 18-year-old Hindu woman eloped with a Muslim man last year, in Bhilai district of Chhattisgarh. As she was a major, the local court allowed her to go with the man as per her wish despite a complaint by her parents that she had been “kidnapped” by him.

The parents disowned her after her decision, but re-established contact a few months later. However, they never accepted the relationship as the man, they say, is a criminal with prior police cases against him and is no match to their family in terms of financial and social status. Also, the man is Muslim, which is an unacceptable alliance for the woman’s family.

Recently, the man filed a police case against the woman’s parents, accusing them of assault.

The complaint application given to various offices by the parents of Mokshika
The complaint application given to various offices by the parents of Mokshika

Amid a spate of cases of men trapping women in relationships for conversion to Islam, often using fraud, which has prompted several states to bring out anti-forced conversion laws (loosely called ‘anti-love jihad’ laws), here is a case of a Hindu family desperately trying to get their daughter back from “love jihad trap”.

Here is what the woman’s mother Vandana Verma told this correspondent over the phone:

When Mokshika eloped with Majied last year

On the night of 8 July 2021, Mokshika left her house, saying she was going with her boyfriend Majied. Her parents had known about their relationship for some time, but were strongly opposing it.

Mokshika’s uncle is a police officer. He was able to track down the couple at Akash Ganga hotel within Bhilai.

The next day, after a raid at the hotel, police caught the two. They brought the couple to the police station as is the procedure and recorded the girl's statement under Section 161 of the CrPC.

Mokshika told the police she wanted to go only with Majied. However, before her statement to the magistrate scheduled for the next day, Vandana convinced her to return home.

Mokshika agreed, but on the condition that she would be allowed to talk to Majied freely.

No police case was made, and the matter did not reach the local court.

Once Mokshika came home, Vandana and her husband Purshottam tried to convince their daughter against the relationship, but she rejected all their appeals. She wanted to get married only to Majied.

“She would talk to him all day, even in front of her father,” Vandana told this correspondent.

A few days later, on 22 July, Mokshika was talking to Majied when her father came home. He asked her to fetch him a glass of water, but she ignored him. Her father snatched her mobile phone and threw it on the floor in a fit of rage. He scolded her that day and even slapped her.

“The same day, Mokshika threatened us, saying she would go to the police and complain against us,” Vandana said, adding, “She even tried to kill herself by attempting to drink a bottle of phenyl.”

An exasperated Purshottam then took Mokshika to the police station, from where she called Majied. On that day, Purshottam told his daughter that he was breaking all ties with her and that she would have no share in his house or property ever. Mokshika left with Majied saying she did not want anything from him.

Nearly two months after leaving home, she called her mother on her birthday in September. She called her parents again in October, around her father’s birthday, and then started calling them regularly.

Vandana, who was upset with Purshottam’s decision to disown their daughter, saw these frequent calls from Mokshika as an opportunity to get her daughter back.

Vandana told Purushottam that Mokshika said “I miss you, Mummy, and asked why she could not come to her home like other married women. Purshottam agreed, and Vandana asked Mokshika to come home.

Mokshika indeed came for a week, on 10 January this year. She had lived with Majied at his residence in Bhilai’s Khurshipar area. Vandana and Purshottam decided not to let their daughter leave them again.

Vandana’s mother told this correspondent that Mokshika had changed significantly.

Her habits had changed, and “she was not the same old Mona [Mokshika’s nickname] anymore”. She used to be fond of going to temples, but she had altogether stopped praying to God, said Vandana.

Mokshika wore a black thread around her ankle. When asked about it, she said that Majied’s mother had given it to her to “protect her from the evil eye”. On 13 January, Vandana cut the thread while her daughter was asleep.

Mokshika must have told this to Majied because he came to Mokshika’s house the very next day with her his mother. They argued with Mokshika’s parents. However, the parents did not allow them to take their daughter with them that day.

Vandana and Purshottam then took Mokshika to Berala, a village near Bemtara, where Purshottam’s sister lived. The mother and daughter lived there for three weeks. The family took away Mokshika’s phone.

Now, Mokshika started going to the temple every day and even observed fasting rituals on Janmashtami and Navratri. The family felt she was getting “normal”. Her cousin Atish Kumar Verma kept her company and even tried drawing her attention towards her studies and building a career.

But somehow, she managed to contact Majied and, in mid-February, went to him again.

Vandana's conversation with Majied
Vandana's conversation with Majied

Vandana filed a missing person’s report (number 11/2022) at Kandarka Police station in Berala Tehsil of Durg District on 21 February.

The Vermas tried to register their complaint at Bhilai Police station, but as the incident had taken place at Berala, the police at Bhilai told them to file a case at Berala police station.

The Missing person report
The Missing person report

After weeks of follow-ups at the police station availed no response, Purshottam reached out to the state women commission’s office. Mokshita was called to the police station, where she said she wanted to live with Majied and did not wish to go back to her parents. The police allowed her to go with the man.

After some time, the distressed parents again reached out to women commission’s office. This time, they met chairperson Dr Kiranmayi Nayak. After hearing about their ordeal, she decided to intervene and set up an investigating team for the case.

“Earlier, the police had told us there was nothing to investigate in this case,” said Vandana.

Mokshika and Majied were summoned to appear before the Durg sub-district magistrate on 9 May. Just before the summons, the couple got married at an “Arya Samaj temple” in Raipur on 4 May and obtained a marriage certificate.

Majied Khan became Mohit Arya to marry Mokshika. As per the conversion certificate, he is 21 years old.

The Marriage certificate as submitted at the SDMs office
The Marriage certificate as submitted at the SDMs office

Vandana said that her family is questioning the credibility of the “temple”, and alleged that some crooks run it and issue conversion certificates in exchange of money.

“With this fraud marriage and conversion, the boy took my daughter again,” Vandana said.

“The court accepts that marriage. I don’t believe in this law, which allows an 18-year-old girl to decide her future. If she cannot decide what to wear on a day, how will she choose a life partner?”

Vandana was distressed when she said this.

She said that Atish also joined her in her struggle to get his cousin back home. The family recently talked to the media, where Atish too participated. They questioned the legality of the conversion procedure.

See his statement here.

Mokshika and Majied

On 10 May, Mokshika uploaded a video from her Instagram account where she said she had married Majied with her own free will. She said her parents were spying on them and not letting her live freely. Her husband Majied was unable to go out to work because of her parents.

Mokshika and Majied Khan after their marriage. Screenshot from a post
Mokshika and Majied Khan after their marriage. Screenshot from a post

She added she did not wish to have any relationship with them. She also alleged that her cousin Atish had dishonourable intentions towards her. She accused her father of forcibly locking her up in a room with Atish when she was in Berala.

Mokshika said that Majied is not a criminal, as alleged by her family. He is a good man, and she wants to spend the rest of her life with only him, Mokshika is seen saying in the video.

Notably, Majied who has "accepted Hinduism", has written “Islam is my Deen, Jannat is my Dream” as his bio on social media platforms. While his Instagram account (@__majied__) has a bio beginning with a name, Mohit, he has written, “Always make dua to Allah, he is the one who is able to turn the impossible to possible.”

Majied Khan's social media handles
Majied Khan's social media handles

On her Instagram, Mokshika shared pictures of their marriage certificate and an FIR (number 538/2022) registered at Durg Kotwali on 10 May 2022.

The FIR was filed against Mokshika’s parents under IPC sections 294 (sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place), 506 (criminal intimidation), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 34 (acts done by several persons with the same intention).

The FIR, shared by Mokshika
The FIR, shared by Mokshika

The FIR could not be accessed from the citizen’s portal of the Chhattisgarh government, as the status of the case is marked as “sensitive”. The complainant's name isn’t visible on the portal either.

However, the pictures of the FIR uploaded on Mokshika’s Instagram account confirm that the complainant was Majied Khan.

His statement says that on 10 May, when Majied went to the court for some work, Vandana and Purshottam dragged him by his shirt collar, slapped him, and asked for their daughter. After this incident, Majied filed a case of assault against them.

The marriage and ‘Shuddhi’

The pictures uploaded by Mokshika on her Instagram account and the other uploads available on the Internet confirm the day and place of marriage as 4 May in Raipur.

The marriage and Shuddhi certificate as shared by Mokshika
The marriage and Shuddhi certificate as shared by Mokshika

Majied became Mohit Arya after undergoing a ‘Shuddhi’ procedure. The certificate is called ‘Shuddhi Patra’.

This correspondent could not contact the said ‘temple’ as the call did not connect, but got in touch with an Arya Samaj Temple located in Santoshi Nagar near Wonderland Water Park in Raipur. The correspondent did not reveal her identity to the temple.

She had a conversation with Dev Shashtri, on 25 May, which went as follows:

Correspondent: “I want to do a booking for my marriage, will it require money?”

Manager: “Yes, you can pay 2000-3000 for pre-booking. There is an instant facility as well; the whole ritual takes place the same day.”

Correspondent: “Okay”

Manager: “What is the age of the girl and the boy?”

Correspondent: “I am 18 while the boy is 21”

Manager: “Caste?”

Correspondent: “I belong to the Soni caste, while the boy is Muslim.”

Manager: “No, marriage is only possible if both boys and girls are Hindu.”

Correspondent: “The boy is ready to convert.”

Manager: “No, Arya Samaj temple is not authorised to do conversions.”

Correspondent: “But how about Shuddhi?”

Manager: “Yes, but that doesn’t mean conversion.”

Correspondent: “But people change their name after Shuddhi”

Manager: “Yes, people do, but Arya Samaj temple is not authorised to do so conversion”

Correspondent: “But an Arya Samaj temple in the Sanjeev Nagar area of Raipur administers such conversions”

Manager: “That temple is illegal. The temple authorities can be booked if someone complaints against them.”

You can listen to the conversation here.

The Police

This correspondent called the police station in-charge of Kandarka police station on 25 May. Constable Bhikham, who took the call, said the girl was tracked down after the missing person’s complaint by parents, but after she recorded her statement at the police station saying she had married someone, she was sent with the boy since she was 18 years old.

He added that the girl had also been presented in the SDM’s office in Durg.

This correspondent enquired about the date of her recovery, but he hung up the call. Further calls remained unanswered.

Asked about any criminal record against Majied, Bhikham said there weren’t any cases against him in Kandarka thana.

This correspondent however found a 2021 bail order at the Durg district and sessions court.

A case (number 627/2020) was registered at Supela police station against Majied under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 120(b) (part to a criminal conspiracy), 294 (recite obscene song/ballad words), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (acts done by several person with a common intention).

Details of his father and home address confirmed that he was the same Majied.

Bail plea by Majied Khan
Bail plea by Majied Khan

The family’s ordeal

“My daughter was never like this. She is the most pampered child in the family. Her father loves her the most. During Covid times, she took care of me when I was in home isolation for 15 days. She loved us until she fell into this boy’s trap,” Vandana said.

“My daughter, who loved her father the most, told us, ‘I will dance over your dead body’. She said, ‘For me, my parents are dead.’ All this happened because of that boy.”

"Majied has police cases registered against him. He is a criminal. How can I let my daughter live with him,” she said.

Majied and Mokshika
Majied and Mokshika

Vandana said that on 10 May, they were at the court regarding their complaint. Majied Khan came there for one of his previous cases, and while he was returning, they dragged him through his collar and slapped him.

Vandana calls the police behaviour with her and her husband as “insensitive”.

She says that a police inspector named Durgesh Sharma told her, “Jab se aapki beti ke saath hai, tabse sudhar gaya hai [He has turned over a new leaf ever since he has been with your daughter].’

“Did I give birth to my daughter to make this criminal a good person? What kind of comment that was?” Vandana said.

She says that a few days ago, she called Majied from an unknown number to ask about Mokshika, but he responded that he had shifted to Pune and Mokshika did not live with him anymore. She says she has no contact with Mokshika anymore and is very worried for her.

Mokshika’s father works at the Bhilai steel plant, and they come from a well-to-do family, said Vandana. “When Mokshika came home early this year, she said that Majied and his family lived in a singleroom house. All their family members live in that room,” said Vandana.

“Mona cannot live without an air-conditioner. How does she survive there? Her elder brother is pursuing his graduation in agriculture, and we thought we would ask Mokshika to appear for the Chartered Accountancy exams, but this boy and his fake love have ruined everything.”

See Vandana's statement to the media here.

What the law says

The Indian law allows all women who have attained the age of 18 to choose their life partners even if their parents or guardians do not give consent.

The law’s implementation in real life, however, is not a smooth ride due to social attitudes.

Intercaste and interfaith relationships often see couples eloping from their homes and secretly marrying in courts in defiance of their parents. Several of such cases have ended up in honour killings of daughters or murders of the men they eloped with.

As per results from Pew Research Center‘s latest survey in India, 80 percent of Indians say they oppose women marrying outside their caste (a little less - 79 percent - say they oppose men marrying outside their caste).

The opposition to intercaste marriages cuts across religions, though the intensity varies. Notably, Muslims oppose intercaste marriages far more than Hindus do. As per the research, 74 percent Muslims oppose women marrying outside caste as opposed to 64 percent Hindus who do it.

As per the same research, registered interfaith marriages have almost nil occurrence in India. The research is silent on attitudes against different faiths.

However, only by casual observation, one knows that opposition to marriages with Muslim men is particularly intense.

For instance, there have been cases of Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist groups holding protests against Muslim men marrying their women against their wishes. They call the pattern “love jihad”. Similar protests have never been seen for men from any other religion by any community.

At the same time, the Muslim side is known for their particularly militant attitude against their women going to the non-Muslim side and leaving her religion.

In his seminal 1945 book Pakistan, or The Partition of India, B R Ambedkar raised this concern, saying “…the Hindus are right when they say that it is not possible to establish social contact between Hindus and Muslims because such contact can only mean contact between women from one side and men from the other.”

Only by casual observation, one knows that ‘Muslim woman-non-Muslim man’ relationships are far fewer in numbers than the ‘Muslim man-non-Muslim woman’ relationships. It is also seen that the former type routinely ends up in the man’s murder by the woman’s side.

As we write this, three such murders have happened in the last three weeks. B Nagaraju, Mithun Thakur and Vijaya Kamble were killed by families of their Muslim girlfriends or wives.

Clearly, it is the social attitudes that largely control the fate of interfaith couples and not the law of the land.

That said, a smooth life is far from guaranteed for women who enter into interfaith marriages, even if their families do not try to actively separate them from their partners.

Swarajya has reported many cases where Hindu women, after eloping and marrying Muslim men against their families’s wishes, have ended the marriages only a few years later. Swarajya has also reported several cases where such women have been killed by their spouses for their refusal to accept Islam after marriage or opposition to customs such as polygamy.

At the same time, there is hardly a known case of a Muslim woman filing police case against a non-Muslim man for trapping her with false identity for marriage or forcing her to change her religion after marriage.

Here is a list of some cases reported by Swarajya:

It is in this context that the Bhilai case, which we have reported above, should be read.

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