She is a Muslim and he is a Jat. They fell in love and got ‘married’. And that has put the police in a Baghpat locality on the edge. They are worried as the local panchayat has held that the couple, who hail from the same village, cannot live together. With possibility of a communal flare-up, the police have placed the 23-year-old woman in their protection.
Iqrana Bano – the Muslim girl who had eloped with Amar Deep, a 25-year-old Jat boy from her village Jhundpur in Baghpat district two weeks ago – returned on Tuesday, armed with a marriage certificate. She landed at Doghat police station with the request of police protection. But the police are worried as they know how such cases turn into communal riots in western Uttar Pradesh. So, they hurriedly took Iqrana for medical examination and recorded her statement before a magistrate, confirming her claim that she and Amar Deep are husband and wife now.
“I have changed my name. Now I am Anu, wife of Amar Deep. We got married in the marriage court in Allahabad on June 5. Now we want to live in the village peacefully,” she has stated.But sources told Mail Today that around the same time, a panchayat of five villages decided that since the boy was a Jat, they wouldn’t let a “daughter of the village” live there as a daughter-in-law. They have said that irrespective of their religion, the boys and girls who live in a village are brothers and sisters.
Some Jats of village Jolla of Muzaffarnagar were reportedly also present at the panchayat. Jolla had gained notoriety in August 2013 when large-scale violence was reported there during the riots, which had stared following the murder of two Jat youths in Muzaffarnagar’s Kawal. The riots had spread to the adjoining Baghpat and Shamli. More than 50 people were killed and over 50,000 rendered homeless in the riots. At least 5,000 families are still living in tattered tents in the districts. Som Pal, son of the village chief Charan Singh said the panchayat was held to ensure that nothing untoward happens there. “We held a panchayat to maintain peace and harmony. We can wait for legal proceedings in the case. But it wouldn’t be easy to let them live here as husband and wife. They can stay here if they are ready to live separately and forget the marriage,” he said.
Mohammad Shabbir, father of Iqrana said, “We will follow the legal path and move the court to declare this marriage null and void.”Additional Superintendent of Police Vidya Sagar Mishra said, “The woman is in our protection. We are following legal formalities in this regard. We will ensure that the newly-wed couple is safe and no other panchayat is convened here in the future.”
But a police officer said that they have deployed Local Intelligence Units in the area because the villagers have been unpredictable. “An inter-religious marriage means a volatile situation here. Obviously, we have to act smoothly and smartly,” he said.His apprehension is not unfounded. In May this year, Imrana Bano (18) and Rajneesh Kumar (21) were found hanging from a tree in Muzaffarnagar’s Bhaura-Khurd village. The police had claimed that they had committed suicide.