Interfaith Couple Harassed By Communal Forces in Chhattisgarh

AN AIPWA team enquired on 5-6 November 2019 into the oppression of interfaith couple from Dhamtari, Anjali Jain and Aryan Arya (Ibrahim Siddiqui). The enquiry team led by Dr Lakshmi Krishnan visited the One Stop Centre (Sakhi) Raipur, Women and Child Development Department Raipur, and also met the Raipur Collector and the victim’s husband. Although they were unable to meet the victim Anjali face to face, they succeeded in having a detailed telephonic conversation with her.

The team first went to the One Stop Sakhi Centre from where they were directed to the Women and Child Development Officer, who again directed them to meet the Collector. The Collector expressed his inability to arrange a meeting of the AIPWA team with Anjali on the premise that it was not permitted by the Court.

The next day on 6 November the AIPWA team met Anjali’s husband Ibrahim (Aryan) and also spoke at length with Anjali on the phone. Anjali and Aryan told the team that they got married on 25 February 2018 according to Arya Samaj rites. Before the marriage Ibrahim got converted to Hinduism as per Arya Samaj procedure and took the name of Aryan. When the girl’s parents came to know of the marriage they shut her up inside the house.

Her husband then filed a habeas corpus at the Bilaspur High Court. Anjali asserted strongly at the High Court that she had married Ibrahim of her own free will. The Court, instead of ensuring that Anjali was not kept in custody of her parents, then directed her to “take time to think”, and said she could stay either at her parents’ home or at the Sakhi Centre. This was effectively subjecting her to judicial punishment and imprisonment in the hope she would abandon her marriage.   

Anjali said she would rather stay at the Bilaspur Sakhi Centre but not with her parents. Her father contrived to have some medicines fed to her which made her ill and her father took her away and sent her out of Chhattisgarh without informing the police. Ibrahim then filed a case in the Supreme Court where the victim Anjali said (under pressure, as she told the AIPWA team on 6 November) that she had married Ibrahim of her own free will but was willing to go to her parents’ home for some time. Meanwhile a false case was slapped on Ibrahim and he spent about 2 months in jail.

Anjali’s relatives pressurized her to file an FIR against Ibrahim but she steadfastly refused to do so. Her father and relatives then abused, beat and tortured her. Her husband complained about this to the police but no action was taken. Finally Anjali herself phoned the DGP Chhattisgarh and asked him to rescue her as otherwise her father would kill her. Then the police rescued her from her home and she was kept in the One Stop Sakhi Centre at Dhamtari. The Jain community and other elements conducted protests which raised security and safety questions for Anjali, following which she was transferred to the Raipur Sakhi Centre where she has remained for the last 8 months.

Anjali and her husband Ibrahim (Aryan) are adults and therefore they have the Constitutional right to stay together and marry if they so wish. This Constitutional right has been reaffirmed in the Supreme Court verdict in the Hadiya case. In the light of the above facts, AIPWA demands that the Supreme Court should act without delay. The victim Anjali should be called and her side of the story should be heard and her right to live with her husband should be respected. AIPWA also demands that adequate security should be guaranteed to both Anjali and Aryan (Ibrahim).