Lucknow: A little more than a week after 32-year-old Mohammad Wakeel was killed in the Lucknow protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), his wife Shabeena recalled the challenges the two had braved for an inter-faith wedding last year.
Born into a Hindu family, 27-year-old Shabeena was ‘Savita’ until a year ago.
“We fell in love. My family tried to stop me but I was in love with him and so I converted to Islam. That’s when I changed my name to Shabeena,” she told ThePrint.
Shabeena became a praying Muslim but one who also wore the chura (a set of red bangles traditionally worn by married Hindu women). “Wakeel never stopped me from following any practice. We had a very understanding relationship.”
She also added that she doesn’t have any regret about their relationship, or her conversion to Islam.
Shabeena and Wakeel lived barely 100 feet away from each other’s houses in Hussainabad area of Old Lucknow but the two entered into a relationship only last year. After barely three months of knowing each other, they decided to get married.
But it wasn’t a smooth ride for the lovers.
“We tried to stop her…tried to convince her against marrying him. But she wasn’t ready to listen to us,” Shabeena’s elder sister Mamta told ThePrint. “After a point, we gave up.”
They completed one year of marriage in November this year. Shabeena pulled out some old photographs of the two, contorting a slight smile as she looked at them.
But what this chura-wearing wife was unable to fathom was just how did her husband, who was not even part of the protests, become a victim.
‘Had gone to buy ration, didn’t know what CAA is’
With murmurs of shops being shut and the possibility of a curfew in the city, Wakeel had left home last Thursday to buy ration and medicines, his family said.
“My son always stayed away from danger. He was never part of any protest in his life. Neither us nor he even knew what CAA is,” Waqeel’s father, Mohammad Sarfuddin, told ThePrint.
Thursday’s agitation in Lucknow was part of the country-wide protests against the amended Citizenship Act.
Around 3.11 pm that day, Wakeel’s friend and neighbour Sameer Khan received a call informing him that the former had been taken to the King George’s Medical University (KGMU) in Lucknow with a gunshot injury. “I rushed to the hospital. But before we could make sense of what was happening, he had passed away,” Khan said.
The eldest of five brothers and three sisters, Wakeel drove an auto-rickshaw for a living. “He was the one responsible, earning member of the family. With him gone, how are we to survive?” Nagma Khatoon, his mother, said.
While Wakeel died of bullet wounds, two others who sustained injuries in the violence last week are still undergoing treatment at KGMU.