Five years ago, when my Bengali friend married her Muslim boyfriend against her family’s wishes, half of the North Kolkata was on rage and kept calling their affair another example of love jihad.
It took her more than two years to find acceptance from her kin, but they have been happy since ever!
Yesterday, when I read about Gulnaz Khatoon, it instantly hit a part of me — and I asked myself if my fellow countrymen would again call it a love jihad?
I think no!
Because this time, it was a Muslim victim, and the accused was a Hindu. And probably, this is why, even after more than 15 days of the incident, no legal actions have been taken yet!
And with every word I write, my heart aches by thinking of that young, innocent 20YO Gulnaz who was about to get married in just four months but was succumbed to her brutal and extensive burn injuries after she was set on fire by men who had been allegedly stalking and threatening her for a long time.
“She was to be married off in just four months. But Satish Kumar Rai, son of Vinay Rai, and Chandan Kumar Rai, son of Vijay Rai, burnt my daughter to death in Vaishali. She herself said so in a video before she died. We have nobody to speak for us,” says the mother of the 20YO deceased Gulnaz.
“She had objected to the sexual harassment and stalking they had been subjecting her to for three months,” said her younger sister. “When my sister used to go and dump garbage, these men would harass her. On October 30 at 5 PM, Chandan Kumar and Satish Kumar poured kerosene on her and set her ablaze,” Gulnaz’s brother added.
Gulnaz belonged to a simple family — her mother was a tailor; her brother was working in Patna. She was soon to be married and life, hopefully, had been admirable for her until these men started troubling her.
The saddest part of this incident is that the men who harassed, attacked and murdered this young Bihar girl was clearly named by her and her family but have not been arrested yet. A viral video on social media can be seen where the victim had clearly pointed out the accused’ names, but there have been no legal actions so far.
To make it worse, the media have gotten no response from the local police or Bihar’s re-elected Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. For like every horrific incident, #JusticeForGulnaz is trending online, but no one can see the pain and agony behind Gulnaz’s mother who has been pleading to the government and authorities for justice for over two weeks now.
“They had told her they would kill her, they doused her with kerosene and lit a match,” her mother shared — for someone whose young daughter had been literally burnt alive, one could not even imagine the way she would be holding herself.
The incident happened in the Vaishali district of Bihar, but it is another tight slap on the entire country’s face — and on those who have been whining on how love jihad is exploiting and destroying young people’s lives.
And if you think that this is only a case of religion and so-called love jihad then let me tell you that the accused men carry caste names of the dominant community.
The incident happened in the Chandpuram village of Vaishali district under Desari police station after which the victim was admitted to PMCH in Patna and 15 days later was succumbed to her injuries.
As per a report by ABP News Online, the accused, Satish Yadav, is a known goon of the village who used to harass the victim. He, along with his two companions, caught Gulnaz near her house and set her on fire after she complained about him.
“They had been saying they would kill me for days. I had told them not to stand here [stalk], they said we have bought the road, they poured kerosene on me and lit a match. He is Vinay Rai’s son,” says Gulnaz in her video statement.
The social media users, again, are divided, and some of them are calling out the hypocrites and asking if this would also be called a love jihad since the accused in this case is a Hindu and not a Muslim. At the same time, a lot of people are staying numb as the victim is a Muslim from a poor family and the accused are from a dominant caste.
Much like the Hathras incident, the local police here too did not take any action even after getting the information soon after the attack and reaching the hospital. As per the sources, they met the victim and registered her statement also but did not file an FIR until the victim’s video statement started getting viral on social media.
So there was no action taken by the local police for the first four days, and even after the victim’s death, no arrests have been made so far.
A classic (yes that’s what I would it) case of religion, caste, dominance and minority, Gulnaz’s case is not new — except that she is a Muslim. Her case is not first and won’t be the last also — and this will keep happening until the government and authorities get themselves out of this quagmire of caste and religion.
Sometimes Dalit, sometimes Muslim, and sometimes minor — no matter what the location or who the government is — it’s always a woman losing her life, her family crying their heart out for justice and a bunch of filthy accused people who roam freely around the city!
Now I ask you, would you call it a love jihad? #JusticeForGulnaz #Shame