Kanth (Moradabad): Rashid, 27, seems nonplussed. He hurries out of Moradabad jail, his hand still held by a policeman, his eyes searching for someone familiar.
The moment Rashid sees his friend Zulfiquar, he walks towards him and asks: “How is Pinky (his wife)? Make me speak to her.”
Before Zulfiquar answers, a policeman tells Rashid: “Stand here. Daroga sahib will take your details and then you are free to go, speak to anyone.” Rashid takes a step back, his eyes still looking for a response from Zulfiquar.
For the last 15 days, Rashid, who was arrested from Uttar Pradesh’s Kanth under the state government’t controversial new ‘love jihad’ law, had been in prison, oblivious to his wife’s miscarriage. His brother Saleem, too, was arrested.
After the UP police did not find any evidence against them, they filed a report in the court and released them from the jail Saturday morning. Rashid now just wants to return to his wife.
As soon as he steps out of the jail premises, a group of reporters ask him: “Do you know that you have lost your unborn child?” Rashid looks at Zulfiquar, who assures him that all is well.
“How would I know that all this happened while I was away? I did not even understand why I was arrested and kept in a jail for 15 days. First they said you have committed a crime, now they say they have nothing against me. If there was a confusion why did they not clarify it?” he says.
Rashid was arrested on 5 December, after the couple tried to register their marriage, which took place on 24 July this year in Dehradun. Rashid claims that during his arrest, he told the police that he has all documents related to their nikah but they threw him in a cell allegedly under pressure from Bajrang Dal workers without giving him a chance to explain.
While Rashid was in judicial custody, the next day, on 6 December, 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, away from her family.
‘No evidence but investigation will continue’
Speaking to ThePrint, Moradabad Assistant Superintendent of Police (rural), Vidya Sagar Mishra, said they informed the court that no evidence was found against Rashid to say that he had forced Pinky to convert for marriage.
“We said that we do not have any evidence at present and he may be released after furnishing a personal bond. Following our report, the court ordered that he may be released. He was released from the jail directly,” Mishra said.
Mishra, however, said that the investigation in the case will continue and if the police does not find anything substantial, a closure report will be filed.
Pinky has also given a statement to the court magistrate under Section 164 of CrPC, saying that she married out of her own choice and she willingly converted to Islam.
“If the woman has said that she did it willingly then it does not make for a case. We, however, will investigate a few more aspects to see if she is not under any sort of pressure and then file our final report,” he said.
Once the police files a closure report under Section 173 of CrPC in the court, the court will ask Pinky’s mother to come and give a statement, as she is the complainant in the FIR, who has alleged that her daughter was forcefully converted to Islam. After that the case may be closed.
‘Don’t want any case, want to return to Dehradun’
Rashid and Saleem get down from Zulfiquar’s car and hurry down the unmotorable narrow lanes on foot to reach home.
As they open the door, they are overwhelmed to see their mother and aunt at the entrance. A long hug follows. The neighbours gathered around the house are cheering, some even whistling. Their eyes well up.
Rashid wipes his tears and goes straight to Pinky. She is lying down in a cot, with a weak smile on her face. Rashid sits next to her and puts his hand on her forehead. He then whispers something in her ear. She starts crying.
“Now since he is back home, I will be fine,” Pinky says. When asked if the couple will formally register a complaint against Bajrang Dal members who they had accused of heckling and thrashing Pinky and Rashid’s mother, Rashid says “no”.
“We do not want any more trouble for anyone. We just want to live our life in peace. We do not want any case. I was in jail for 15 days, for no fault of mine, I do not wish to drag this now,” he says and Pinky agrees.
Pinky now just wants to return to Dehradun, where they were working, as early as possible. “I just want to be well and then return to Dehradun. I do not wish to live in this state where our marriage was put to test. This is no more home. I know we may face trouble in the future as well since we belong to different faiths. This is definitely not the place for us,” she says.
“I just hope this case finishes soon and we are able to get back to normal life,” she adds.