A wedding was stopped in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, after police received a phone call claiming that the groom, a Muslim man, was marrying a Hindu woman after converting her.
The police kept them at the Kasya police station overnight and allegedly beat the man with a leather belt, only to find out the next day that both the bride and groom were Muslims.
The groom, Haider Ali (39), works as a barber in Azamgarh, and the bride is 28-year-old Shabeela Khatoon.
Kasya Police Station SHO Sanjay Kumar blamed miscreants for spreading rumors of ‘love jihad’ and inciting the incident. Piyush Kant Rai, Circle Officier, said that they acted at once since the “atmosphere is tense and the administration is strict about such cases”.
Kushinagar SP Vinod Kumar Singh denied allegations of torture saying that senior officers and Local Intelligence Unit along with ‘respected locals’ arrived at the station soon after and “the matter was soon sorted and there was no reason to beat up anyone”.
The couple finally got married on Wednesday after the bride’s brother arrived at the police station and told the police that the family had no objection if the woman wants the wedding.
The bride had to get her family to send a photo of her Aadhaar card and make a video call to the police station. According to her family, the police were polite after that but did not let them go until her brother arrived at the station.
The watchman of Ali’s village admitted to making the call on a tip-off by a few Hindu youths. Also, a local social activist who facilitated the wedding, Arman Khan said that members of Hindu Yuva Vahini had ‘interrogated’ the couple before the police arrived. Khan was taken to the police station on Tuesday along with the cleric conducting the ceremony. The cleric was finally let go after he changed his statement and said “the nikah wasn’t final yet.”
Kasya CO, Piyush Kant Rai said that they had confirmed a ‘missing person’s report’ filed by Shabeela’s family after she ran away from her home in Azamgarh on December 4 and moved into Ali’s rented room.
Rai said, “The two knew each other for the last around one-and-a-half years. On Tuesday, we got a call at the Kasya Police Station that a Muslim man was going to marry a Hindu woman. The information was given by a few locals of the village who said they had heard that a ‘love jihad’ marriage was going to take place.”
While speaking about the ‘miscreants’ who spread the ‘love jihad’ rumor, the CO said that even though the information could be wrong, it did not amount to criminal charges. The village watchman said that he felt it was his duty to inform the police when Hindu locals approached him claiming a ‘love jihad’ wedding was being held.