On May 26, locals of Purola town in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand, foiled a bid to kidnap a minor girl by two men – a Hindu and a Muslim.
The minor’s uncle, a 40-year-old school teacher, lodged an FIR against them who were arrested the following day.
However, things turned upside down for the town as a ‘love jihad’ spin was given to the incident leading to communal unrest for nearly two weeks.
‘Love jihad’ is a term coined by Hindutva followers and right-wing organisations with a narrative that Muslim men lure Hindu women into love and forcefully convert them to Islam.
It should be noted that neither the Union government nor the judiciary recognises this term.
Hindustan Times (HT) reached out to the government school teacher who says that his police complaint never mentioned any communal angle.
Complaint mentioned regular crime: Minor’s uncle
The teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, told HT that his life has turned into a living hell after the incident. “It was never a love jihad case, but a regular crime. Right-wing organisations insisted to make this a communal issue. They even prepared a police complaint for us on their own. However, neither the police nor my family accepted their version,” he said.
“Those that committed it (attempt to kidnap his niece), are behind bars. The judiciary will now decide,” the school teacher was quoted by the HT.
Vexed with the constant calls by the right-wing organisations to change his stand, the school teacher was forced to change his mobile number. “I have stopped taking calls from unknown numbers,” he said.
Clear case of ‘love jihad: Bajrang Dal
HT spoke to Vikas Verma, a Bajrang Dal member, who stressed the incident was a clear case of ‘love jihad’.
“The accused [Ubed Khan] had posed as a Hindu and even had a social media profile under a Hindu name. The complaint by the victim’s uncle is a testament. Our motive is just to save our daughters,” Verma said.
According to Purola police station in-charge Khajan Chauhan, on the day of the incident, the minor had asked for directions from the two accused – 24-year-old Ubed Khan and 23-year-old Jitendra Saini.
“They allegedly drove from the main market area near a petrol pump and called for an auto rickshaw. When locals saw the minor being forcefully made to sit in the auto, they came to her rescue. Saini and Khan had fled,” the police officer told HT.
A case was registered under sections 363 (kidnapping), 366A (procuration of minor girl) of the Indian Penal Code and sections of the POCSO Act.
‘Want to support Muslims but too scared’
Meanwhile, the minor is still in shock at what happened to her. “She does not go out. She is concerned about her future,” the school teacher said.
Asked if he supports what conspired after the incident, the school teacher answers negatively. “I want to extend my support to the Muslim community but I am too scared. Every time I open Facebook, most news-related videos says this was a case of love jihad. It makes me depressed. Nobody asks me what the real story is,” he was quoted by the HT.
On May 29, threatening posters appeared in Purola demanding Muslims vacate the town by June 15. Close to 50 Muslim families have left the town. “Those who left should have never gone. I want them back. The whole community shouldn’t be targeted for the offence of one,” the school teacher said.