September, 2021: Puja Pandey was a married woman with three children. She, along with her husband Vishal Kumar and family, lived in Telangana.
Last year, she came close to a person who worked for her husband. Leaving her family behind, she eloped with him and came to Uttar Pradesh.
Puja has now filed a police case against him.
She says the man’s family harassed her for dowry and assaulted her.
One of the key allegations she has made against the man is that he posed as a Hindu while working for her husband when, in fact, he is a Muslim. The woman has said in her complaint that the man and his family pressured her to convert to Islam and adopt Muslim practices such as wearing burqa.
FIR filed, accused arrested
The first information report (FIR) in the case (number 339/2021) was filed at Friends Colony police station in UP’s Etawah district on 5 September. The statement says that one Raja Pandit would work for her husband in Telangana. She eloped with him and came to Etawah. Initially, Raja made her stay at Shanti Colony. Later, he took her to his village, Masnai.
The statement says it was there that puja discovered that Raja was just a pseudo name used by the man and he was actually named Mohammed Ameen. His parents and brothers began to pressure her to bring dowry. They also collectively began to force her to convert to Islam.
Based on the statement, the police booked Ameen, his father Jalaluddin Khan, his mother Kherunishan, and his brothers Salman and Ansar for harassment over dowry (IPC section 498A), causing hurt (323), provocation through insult (504), cheating by impersonation (419), as well under various sections of the Dowry Prohibition Act and UP’s Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020.
The station house officer (SHO) of Friends Colony police station told Rashtra Jyoti over the phone that all the accused had been arrested and were being questioned. He said the key accused, Ameen, painted houses for a living in Telangana.
The officer said that Ameen was brought before the court, where he said that Puja knew everything about him and he never used a false identity.
This correspondent called up Puja, but she disconnected after saying that far too many journalists were calling her and she could no longer trust anyone.
However, her statements given to local news channels are available.
Puja says the accused recorded her sexual videos
She told the media that she entered into a relationship with the accused knowing he was named Raja Pandit. She made physical relationship with him, but he recorded the sexual acts.
He then began to use them to blackmail her into getting physical with him frequently and eventually forced her to elope. He threatened to post the videos on social media if she did not obey him.
She also told the television channels that when Raja kept her in “confinement” in Etawah, he made her sign on a few pieces of papers which she couldn’t read. She later learnt that some of the papers declared her to be a Muslim from then onwards.
Puja also said that before bringing her to his home, Ameen kept her at his sister’s house for two weeks. However, the couple was asked to leave.
When she came to Ameen’s house, his parents and brothers began to force her to wear burqa. They told her that she must wear it else people would come to know that their son had brought a Hindu woman home. Puja told the family that being a Hindu, she refused to wear the burqa.
They also told her to change her name to Nasreena. When she refused, the family assaulted her, she said.
Puja told the media that some Hindu activists helped her complaint get registered with the police. One of the activists who accompanied Puja while she gave her statement to news channels is Anuj Purohit.
Rashtra Jyoti talked to Purohit, who introduced himself as a volunteer for a group named Narayani Sena. He said that his group found Puja weeping outside the local court. They listened to her story and gathered a bunch of people to accompany her to the Friends Colony police station, which was nearest to them. The group also gave a statement signed by Puja to superintendent of police (SSP) of Etawah, Brijesh Kumar Singh.
Purohit said that Puja had been provided a rented accommodation near Friends Colony. Puja told them that her elder son would come to take her back to Telangana soon. “Till her family comes, we will look after her,” he said.