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Dalit boy, Muslim girl and a Thakur panchayat: How forbidden love rocked this UP village

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The girl claims to have eloped of her own will, but the families remain divided as caste equations trump young love in Bulandshahr’s Sonda Habibpur.

Bulandshahr: A Dalit man claims to be running for his life in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, after his son’s decision to elope with a local Muslim girl allegedly put him on the radar of his upper caste neighbours.

Shri Krishna’s 21-year-old son Shivkumar is believed to have run away with their neighbour Razia, 18, in June, but divergent narratives have since hijacked the aftermath as both sides trade accusations of harassment.

Caste tensions have emerged as well amid allegations that Razia’s family had the support of the village’s Thakur population in targeting Shri Krishna and his relatives.

Speaking to ThePrint Sunday from his place of hiding, Shri Krishna said he had been “spotted” by four men. “I’m getting out of here as quickly as possible. I don’t know where I will go, but I need to run,” the 44-year-old labourer added.

Sitting under a tree in an empty schoolyard at Khurja, 26 km from Bulandshahr town, he said he had been running from fields to forests and empty plots since Wednesday, a day after he was allegedly made to lick his own spit by neighbours at his village, Sonda Habibpur.

Shri Krishna, the Dalit man who was allegedly humiliated and beaten by upper caste residents of his village | ThePrint.in

He and his brother were also allegedly beaten up for over 15 minutes by locals who, he claims, lured them to the spot on the pretext of holding a panchayat meeting.

“They said that if I didn’t bring my son and Razia back, they would drag my wife and daughter out of my house, parade them naked in the main square, and ask all the single boys in the village to rape them,” Krishna said.

He was asked to leave the village immediately and told that his fields and property would now be owned by Razia’s family.

Krishna’s wife and two 11-year-old sons are currently under police protection. “I’m scared for my life. I know this is the end,” he said.

Shivkumar's mother, Rajkumari, walking towards her house in Sonda village | ThePrint.in
Shivkumar’s mother, Rajkumari, walking towards her house in Sonda village | ThePrint.in

The five people named by Shri Krishna in his police complaint on the alleged assault have been booked under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and two of them arrested — Razia’s father Bhura Khan, and Khillu, a local.

Rayees Akhtar, Bulandshahr additional superintendent of police, confirmed the arrests. “We have been unable to arrest the other three so far,” he added.

The accused include Narayan Singh Solanki, a local leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). According to Shri Krishna, “The Solankis, who are upper caste Thakurs, run this town. They are the ones who beat and abused me. Everyone is scared of them and will deny everything.”

He added that “police let them go because they work for (union minister) Mahesh Sharma”.

Solanki, however, has pled innocence. “I didn’t know about the panchayat, I came because people were gathering,” Solanki said.

“The boy’s uncle came and started abusing us. They were children of the village so they got one or two slaps. Nobody abused them, made him spit, or used any caste-based slurs,” he added.

“He just wants to trap us. He took my name on TV too, but didn’t say that I’m a hard-working servant of the BJP. I don’t see religion or caste, I just do good work under (union minister) Mahesh Sharma here,” he said.

Mahesh Sharma, the BJP MP for Gautam Buddha Nagar in UP, remained unavailable for comment despite several attempts by ThePrint.

Two families, two different narratives

Razia’s family lives in the same narrow lane as Shivkumar’s, their houses situated 15 metres apart.

Razia's mother, Sakila Begum | ThePrint.in
Razia’s mother, Sakila Begum | ThePrint.in

Talking to ThePrint at their home, Razia’s mother, 42-year-old Sakila Begum, said her husband was being framed by Shri Krishna. “The Koris have taken our daughter, our respect, and now they’ve put our man in jail,” she said.

Kori is the community to which Shivkumar’s family belongs. According to Sakila, the “fake” panchayat wasn’t called by Khan and the Thakurs. It was convened by Shri Krishna, she said, under the “pretence of returning our girl to us”.

She echoed Solanki’s account of the ‘panchayat’. “At the panchayat, Shri Krishna started insulting the village elders and misbehaving with them. And so they slapped him once, that’s all. All this ‘made him spit and then lick it’ is a complete lie. He’s framing our people,” Sakila added.

Razia's grandmother | ThePrint.in
Razia’s grandmother | ThePrint.in

Bhura Khan’s is the only Muslim family to live in Hindu-dominated Sonda Habibpur. Razia’s grandmother Hajra, aged over 80, said they relied heavily on the Thakurs for political, economic and social support. “They are all we have. What else will we do?” she said.

Solanki said Shri Krishna’s son was “known to trap women in false relationships and take advantage of them”.

“He is known to blackmail people for money with threats of false cases. As for us, we were merely trying to prevent the possibility of communal tension between the two groups,” Solanki said.

Love in the time of casteism

There is no word on the whereabouts of the story’s main characters, Shivkumar and Razia.

Shivkumar, who holds a degree in computer science, is said to have first left the village on 25 May after a disagreement with his father about career prospects. Razia was reported missing two weeks later, and her family guessed she had left to be with Shivkumar, Shri Krishna said.

The two families, both furious about the union between a Kori and a Muslim, then came together to look for the couple and bring them back.

“I told them (Razia’s family)… I’m with you. That if we find them, if you want to punish them, or kill the bast***s, jail them, or evict them from the village, whatever it is, I will help and also provide money,” Shri Krishna said.

“For a girl of the village to become a bahu (daughter-in-law) of the same village is impossible. It is shameful,” he added.

On their tail

A wild goose chase followed. After a tip-off from Razia’s niece that the couple had booked a room at an Aligarh hotel, Shri Krishna and Bhura arrived in the town on 7 June but could not find them there.

Subsequent tip-offs from their extended families suggested the couple had reached Kanpur, but Bhura decided it was futile to hunt for them in such a big city.

“Neither Bhura Khan nor I wanted to have anything to do with them… So, he told me to wait at home and, the next day, 9 June, filed an FIR against Shivkumar,” Krishna said.

Shivkumar and Razia were eventually found in Delhi on 19 June. Brought before the civil court in Khurja Nagar near Bulandshahr, Razia testified that she loved Shivkumar and had voluntarily decided to be with him.

“She said that her parents used to beat her, were trying to get her forcefully married to someone else, and that she left of her own will,” Shri Krishna said.

Members of Razia’s family alleged that she was threatened by Shri Krishna to testify in favour of his son, but the court ruled in favour of the couple. The families believe the two got married the same day, but they didn’t, a fact confirmed by police and Shri Krishna’s lawyer.

Shri Krishna, who seems to have disowned his son, said he immediately asked the couple to leave the village as he feared retribution from the locals.

“They left immediately, and I don’t know where they are now,” Shri Krishna told ThePrint.

‘No question of manipulation’ 

Between the two contradictory versions of the panchayat lies the report prepared by investigating officer Virendra Singh of the Khurja Nagar police station.

“Based on testimonies, it has emerged that, during the panchayat, Krishna’s brother said he would find and return Razia in two days. But the local leaders said he had to do it in two hours. A fight ensued, in which Krishna was mistreated,” Singh told ThePrint.

Police protection at Shri Krishna's house in Sonda village | ThePrint.in
Police protection at Shri Krishna’s house in Sonda village | ThePrint.in

Police, however, are yet to determine whether claims about a 15-minute assault, being made to lick spit, and the threat of gang rape are true. “It will take multiple visits and various testimonies before the truth emerges,” Singh added.

“It’s a matter of honour. The problem is that the girl is Muslim, and the Muslims are supported by the Thakur raj, who don’t think these kinds of unions are acceptable in society,” he said, adding that he was “personally in charge of taking Razia’s testimony before court”.

“She’s an adult, not a minor, so the question of manipulation or pressure in front of police and a judge does not arise,” he said.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. The Government should overcome its colour addiction tained by saffron, look straight and act lawfully with a bias .
    Let the boy and the girl of interfaith, being audult, be happy if they decide to do so.

  2. WHAT IS WRONG IF HINDU MAN MARRIES A MUSLIM GIRL. THE THEKADAR OF HINDU MUSLIM SHOULD BE KEEP AWAY .THIS IS A MATTER OF TWO ADULT. WHO ARE THIRD PARTY TO MEDIATE .POLICE SHOULD PROTECT THE COUPLE.

  3. This is a tragic story in caste ridden society of Uttar Pradesh. Even Muslim community that is believed to be egalitarian in their outlook, is not free from medieval patriarchal mindset. A dalit man can reach SC/ST commission. What about angry dalit leaders like Mr Mevani, Behen Ji Mayawati and others? May be this poor dalit man will be sacrificed at the alter of greater dalit benefit of a dalit Muslim grand alliance.

    • I am really surprised to know that still Cast systems are extremely important in SHINING INDIA. ALAS. NO one is truly spent her/his life in mostly part of india. Thank GOD in Pakistan we have not such a problems of Casting System. Every one is free and Equal.

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