In Sheohar district of Bihar, an incident of murder recently came to light after a patrolling officer was informed that a man and his mother were seen dragging a body out of their house.
Investigation revealed that the woman had been killed by the duo. She was identified as Lakshmin, the man’s wife. Lakshmin, a native of Chhattisgarh, had eloped from home, converted to Islam and changed her name to Fatima Khatun to marry the man, Mohammed Riyazuddin.
Riyazuddin has been arrested and sent to jail by the police. Local media reports have called the incident a case of ‘love jihad’, a name given to the pattern of gender crimes where Muslim men entrap non-Muslim women in relationship for the purpose of their religious conversion or sexual exploitation.
Details Of The Police Case
A First Information Report (number 70/2022) was registered at Hiramma police station of Sheohar district in Bihar on 6 October, 2022 on statement by a local patrolling officer named Amiri Paswan.
The officer, in his complaint, said that around 7 am on 6 October, he was informed that in ward number 9 of Bankul village, a murder had taken place.
A resident, Mohammad Riyazuddin, along with his mother Sulebun Khatun, had killed his wife Fatima by choking her throat. They were dragging her dead body out of their house.
When the officer reached the spot, Riyazuddin was still dragging the body out. He was stopped with the help of locals.
When he inquired around, residents told him that Riyazuddin had killed his wife with his mother by choking her throat with a rope. The previous night, the three had had a big fight.
By then, assistant sub-inspector Afroz Ahmad from Hiramma police station had reached the spot with force. They arrested Riyazuddin and sent the body of his wife for post-mortem to the district hospital.
When Paswan asked about Fatima’s parents, her mother-in-law said nothing. They were also trying to hide her true identity. Paswan’s complaint concluded here.
As per the FIR, both the suspects were booked under IPC sections 302 (murder), 201 (hiding evidence) and 34 (acts done by several people with common intention).
What The Investigating Officer Told Swarajya
The correspondent called Amiri Paswan on 11 October. He said that the prime suspect, Riyazuddin, had been arrested by the police while Sulebun Khatun was absconding.
Asked to elaborate on the incident, Paswan repeated his statement in the FIR, but added that when he saw the body being dragged out of the house, he saw marks of a rope around her neck.
He said residents, who were all from Riyazuddin’s religious community, told him that it was he who had murdered the woman. Riyazuddin in his defence said that his wife had committed suicide.
Paswan said that the suicide theory seemed implausible because of circumstances of the case.
“The house they [Riyazuddin’s family] live in, is a kutcha house. The height of these houses is around four feet. Anyone with a height of five feet can barely stand there. For Fatima to hang herself, the ceiling should have a normal height of six feet. So the claims of this being a suicide seem baseless,” said Paswan, adding that the woman’s eyes and mouth were wide open when he saw her body.
Residents told him that Fatima and Riyazuddin usually lived away from the village for work and visited only occasionally. It was only two days ago that they had returned.
The officer said that he collected some documents from the house related to the case, including Aadhaar cards, property documents and educational mark-sheet of the woman.
The mark-sheet showed the woman’s name as Lakshmin Kumari. An Aadhaar card showed her name as Fatima Khatun. It was clear that the woman was Hindu, and had converted her religion to marry Riyazuddin, he added.
Paswan said that Riyazuddin and his mother were trying to hide this fact about the woman during the house search and their interrogation.
As per her documents, Lakshmin was a resident of Tundra village of Kasdol Tehsil in Baloda Bazar-Bhatapara district of Chhattisgarh. Her father’s name is Puni Ram and mother’s name is Santoshi Devi, said Paswan.
When asked about her parents, the officer said that they had been informed but had not visited the village yet. When asked for her parents’ phone number, Paswan declined the request saying he is not authorised to share their number with the media.
After the post-mortem, body of Fatima was handed over to her mother-in-law Sulebun Khatun, who is now absconding.
Paswan said that the couple married “in 2015 or 16”.
A report by Dainik Jagran quoted Sheohar Superintendent of Police Anant Kumar saying that Riyazuddin used to work at a chimney in Chhatisgarh area and that’s where he met Lakshmin.
The report said that Fatima and Riyazuddin have a daughter named Rukhsana.
Swarajya has reported a large number of cases where Hindu women have been murdered or killed themselves for refusing or after accepting conversion-nikah.
Here is a list of such cases.
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