Kanth, Moradabad: Pinky (22) is numb. Her foetus died in her womb, she has not stopped bleeding in days, her Muslim husband is in jail and her marriage is under scrutiny by the Uttar Pradesh Police.
Clinging on to her ultrasound report that she received this afternoon, she says, “My child is no more. See my womb is empty, my baby is gone. Did my husband and I really deserve this? Why was my child killed?”
Pinky’s husband Rashid has been held on charges of converting and forcibly marrying her under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Law, or the ‘love jihad’ law.
He was picked up from UP’s Kanth in Moradabad district on 5 December, after the couple tried to register their marriage, which took place on 24 July this year, in a court.
While Rashid is in judicial custody, Pinky, who was three months pregnant, was allegedly kept in the police station for over eight hours and then sent to Nari Niketan in Moradabad at 2 am on 6 December, away from her family.
This was followed by five days of alleged torture and miscarriage at the Nari Niketan and three days of painful treatment at a local government hospital. She was reunited with her family on 15 December, while her husband remains in jail without any legal representation.
Although Moradabad district officials have denied Pinky had a miscarriage, her ultrasound report, accessed by ThePrint, says that her “uterus is bulky” and has “RPC (Retained product of conception)/blood clots in UT”, suggesting that she was pregnant and had a miscarriage.
“The report shows that she was pregnant and there was a miscarriage. She still has a part of the foetus in her body, which would have to be cleaned by a procedure,” a medical expert in UP told ThePrint. “This also shows that she still must be bleeding and requires urgent care.”
‘Pushed, heckled, jailed’
Pinky and Rashid met in Dehradun in 2019 and fell in love. Pinky worked with a finance company as a loan agent and Rashid at a local saloon. They got married amid the lockdown, without the knowledge of their families in Dehradun in July this year.
They returned to Kanth in September as the saloon Rashid was working at shut shop, and informed both sets of parents about their wedding. After initial resistance, both Rashid’s and Pinky’s parents accepted their marriage and neighbours suggested that they get their marriage registered.
“We should have never returned to UP. We were both happy in Dehradun,” Pinky said.
Recalling the afternoon of 5 December, when Pinky left her home with Rashid to get her marriage registered, she said, “We took all our documents including the nikahnama, age and address proofs, application that we filled online, to the local lawyer. When we were on our way, we were stopped by a group of Bajrang Dal people. They asked me my name and then started abusing me. They called our marriage love jihad and dragged us to the police station.
“I told them that I married out of my own will and I was pregnant, but they did not listen. They kept abusing me and my husband and pushed and thrashed me when I resisted their attempt to report us to the police,” she added.
Monu Bishnoi, who claimed to be zila organiser of the Bajrang Dal, confirmed that he along with his group reported the couple to the police but denied having heckled the couple.
“We got information that Rashid has married a Hindu girl so we went to check. It is our responsibility to take care of our Hindu sisters,” he said.
“When she told us that her name was Pinki, we asked why she was wearing a burqa being a Hindu,” he added. “She told us that she married Rashid in July, but we reported both of them to the police for them to check.
“We always make sure that none of our Hindu women fall for these boys,” he further said.
The anti-conversion law since it came into effect on November 29 after the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, was cleared by UP Cabinet, claims to check “unlawful religious conversions” and “inter-faith marriages with the sole intention of changing a girl’s religion”, with provision for jail term of up to 10 years.
According to the law, a marriage will be declared “shunya (null and void)” if the “sole intention” was to “change a girl’s religion”. If it is found that the conversion is done “forcibly, through atrocity or cheating”, the offence will be non-bailable.
FIR on mother’s complaint
At the station, police then asked the couple to produce the documents of their marriage.
Pinky said that the police were convinced that they married out of choice and much before this law came into effect, so they were ready to let go off the couple but members of the Bajrang Dal insisted that an FIR be lodged.
She alleged that the Bajrang Dal members even got her mother from Bijnor in their car and forced her to lodge an official complaint.
“The police let us go because they were convinced that our marriage was genuine, but those goons insisted that a case be registered,” she said. “When the police did not, those goons took my address from my documents and went to my mother in Bijnor.”
“They got her to Kanth in their personal car and asked her to give a complaint and she did. Police registered this case under compulsion and pressure of Bajrang Dal,” she added.
Based on the woman’s complaint, the police then registered a case against Rashid and arrested him.
Speaking to ThePrint, SSP Moradabad, Prabhakar Chaudhary, denied the claim that the police registered a case under pressure.
“The girl’s mother came to us with a complaint and we filed a case. If they had been married since July, whether it was consensual or not, will be decided in the investigation,” Chaudhary said. “If we do not have enough proof against the accused, we will not ask for his remand and he will get bail.”
Chaudhary said that the girl’s mother has recorded a statement before the magistrate under 164 CrPC in which she has stood by her words. “In her statement, the mother has not said that she was forced to file a complaint. She has said that her daughter was forcefully converted and that is what we will investigate,” he said.
To this, Pinky asked, “My mother knew about my marriage since September. Why would she suddenly wake up now to file a case? “
After spending over eight hours at the police station, Pinky was sent to Nari Niketan, where she was allegedly “mistreated”.
“I started having abdomen pain and I complained to the in-charge there, who dismissed me and told me that I was lying. I told her that I was pregnant, but she did not listen,” Pinky said.
Pinky complained that she was made to do laborious work including cleaning and lifting heavy things despite her telling authorities that she was pregnant.
“I was made to do a lot of work, not given enough food. It was torture. Initially I was spotting but no one paid attention, and then I started bleeding from my vagina,” she said. “I was weak and very concerned about my child, so I requested the authorities to take me to a doctor but no one cared till the last minute when the bleeding increased.”
Pinky was taken to the hospital on 11 December where she was admitted and was treated. She was discharged on 13 December after her bleeding stopped, but was readmitted on the same day after she started bleeding again. She was then referred to Meerut on 14 December.
Pinky alleged that it was at the hospital that she was given some injections and medicines, which may have led to her miscarriage, but the doctors at the hospital denied the allegation.
“She came to us complaining of bleeding. We did an ultrasound twice in which the foetus was visible but we could not see the baby’s heartbeat,” a doctor who treated Pinky told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
“To stop the bleeding initially we gave her ethamfinate injections and Isop Supreme and Full White medication. These are basic medicines to stop bleeding and treat the patient.
“We then realised that she needs a sonography, as we could see that the foetus is still there,” the doctor added. “We referred her to Meerut and also said that we would arrange a car for her, but she said she would go there with her in-laws and that she should be allowed to go. Then she left.”
Pinky, who said she did not trust the doctors there, then went to a private hospital in Dampur, Bijnor, for an ultrasound.
Pinky now regrets the moment the couple thought of getting their marriage registered. All she now wants is her husband to be freed.
“I feel weak. Tired,” she said.
“Had we not thought of getting our marriage registered, we would have never gone to a lawyer with our papers and no one would have ever known that we had an interfaith marriage,” she said.
“My child would be alive and my husband beside me,” she added. “I shudder when I think of Rashid’s reaction when he gets to know that our child is no more. I regret the decision.”