In yet another case of a Hindu woman filing a police case against her alleged tormentor who trapped her with motive of religious conversion, one Mamta Singh from Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district has accused one Mohammed Sohail Shah of posing as ‘Saurav Kumar’ to form a relationship with her.
She says their bond soon turned toxic, with ‘Saurav’ demanding sexual favours repeatedly and treating her badly. When she learnt that Saurav was actually Sohail, she was subjected to more torture and pressured to accept him as he was and convert to Islam to marry him, she says.
Mamta says she managed to escape the trap and return to her parents. Based on her statement, the police have booked Sohail under charges of rape and forced conversion, and arrested him.
Here is the story of Mamta, as told to the police and to this correspondent.
A first information report (number 258/2022) was registered on 5 June 2022 at Kotwali Dehat police station of the Saharanpur district in UP.
The complainant, Mamta Singh, said in her statement that she met a man named Saurav and entered into a relationship with him. He asked her to meet him at Haqiqat Nagar square on 5 May 2022. He said he would take her on a tour outside the city. Mamta put forth the condition of marriage.
The man, on the pretext of marriage, took her to a room in the Punjabi Bagh area on 10 May. There, he put a mangalsutra around her neck and vermilion in her hair. He claimed the marriage had been conducted. Mamta objected, saying they had not taken rounds of the fire and nobody had witnessed the ceremony, but the man said he did not believe in worldly rituals.
On 1 June 2022, he took her to the residence of his uncles, Bhura and Shehenshah, in Behat adda. There she found that Saurav was actually Sohail. Sohail’s mother Parveen and brother Shammi started pressuring her to convert to Islam. Sohail kept her confined in the house for four days and raped her daily. When she repeatedly denied converting to Islam, he asked her to leave the house.
Sohail’s family members abused her and threatened her that if she went to the police they would kill her family.
After returning from his house, Mamta shared her ordeal with her parents. They accompanied her to the police station where they registered a complaint against Sohail and his family, the complaint says.
Watch her statement given to the media outside the police station here.
What the police say
The Saharanpur police posted a press note in the case on 7 June 2022.
It says the police have arrested the accused Sohail, son of Jahid Shah, a resident of the Punjabi Bagh area in Haqiqat Nagar of Saharanpur. The accused was arrested from Maheshwari adda near Behat Road on 7 June when he was about to flee to Dehradun. The same day, he was presented in court, the note says.
This correspondent called the investigating officer, Jitendra Singh, on 20 June. He said the victim recorded her statement in front of the magistrate on 6 June and a detailed medical test was also conducted the same day.
Sohail has been booked under IPC sections 376 (rape), 342 (wrongful confinement), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 504 (intentionally insults a person).
When asked why the police had not invoked the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act 2021 (loosely called anti-love jihad‘ law), the officer said investigation is on and it could be added at a later stage.
What the survivor told Swarajya
Mamta told this correspondent the story of how she met Sohail alias Saurav. Around two years ago, one of her friends named Saloni posted a picture with her on her Instagram account. A friend of Saloni named Saurav started asking about her and told Saloni that he had a crush on Mamta. Saloni told this to Mamta and became a mediator in their love story.
Mamta and Saurav became friends on Instagram and later started seeing each other. They always met in restaurants and cafes. In May 2022, Saurav asked Mamta to join him for a trip to Mussoorie.
Mamta lied to her parents that she was going with female friends.
In Dehradun, they stayed in one room. Mamta had developed feelings for Saurav.
They had intimate moments in Mussoorie but Mamta was not ready to consummate their relationship before marriage. Saurav was mad at her. He cut short the trip and they returned within two days.
After returning, he called her to his uncle’s house one day. There he put a mangalsutra around her neck and vermilion in her hair. He told her, “You wanted a marriage, so here it is. Now we are married.”
Mamta says she was was shocked. When she demanded other rituals such as pheras around the fire, Saurav said that he would get all the ceremonies done soon.
She says that night, Saurav forced her into having sexual intercourse with him, saying he was her husband now.
Mamta says he began to behave better after that night, and so she thought he was probably right. All this while, Mamta was staying with her family who did not know about these developments.
Mamta had begun asking him to live with her as husband and wife. One day, he asked her to elope from the house and come to his uncle’s house with some luggage. She did. However, she says she was shocked to see several men at the house, most of whom were sporting skull caps.
She says she grew suspicious and confronted Saurav. He casually revealed to her that he was Sohail, not Saurav. He told her that he had to lie, else she would not have accepted him. He told her nothing would change between them with the new revelation.
Mamta says that the same day, Sohail introduced Mamta to her mother and sister-in-law. The women talked to Mamta in private, and told her that she would have to convert her to Islam, and have a formal nikah ceremony with Sohail in front of the entire family.
Mamta, however, declined the condition. She says she told the family she is Hindu and would remain so forever.
When the women left, Sohail talked to Mamta. He told her he loved her very much and conversion was a small condition put by the family. “He told me there were hundreds of girls dying to marry him but he wanted only me and that should flatter me,” she told this correspondent.
Mamta says she pushed him aside and shouted that she did not accept this condition.
Later, a man, who looked like he was in his fifties, entered the room, drunk. “He had a long beard. He was far from polite. He told me if I did not do as asked, he would chop me to pieces and throw them in the river,” she says.
She says he threatened her that it would be better for her to adhere to what everyone was telling her to do, else she would face consequences. “They were even threatening to kill my father and my brother,” she says.
Mamta says that everyone around was repeatedly saying that it was the day of “Jumma”.
“Without asking me, they said they would take us to the court for court marriage and later, a conversion process would be done. They also discussed about a maulana,” she says.
Mamta says she was crying while all of them were yelling at her.
Soon, she was locked up in a room.
At night, Sohail entered the room. He did not say anything, but began to have sexual intercourse with her. “I tried to resist, but he did not relent. I could not afford to make noise as everyone was already angry at me,” she says.
Mamta says this continued for four days. In the day, she would be yelled at and, in night, Sohail would have sex with her.
She says that after four days, Sohail let us leave, but not before threatening her against going to the police.
Mamta says that looking back at her story, she feels she fell victim to a love trap. When asked if she meant ‘love jihad’, Mamta said she had only recently heard of the term and was not quite sure what it meant. However, she says that Sohail lied to her all along, at every step.
Recalling her relationship with Sohail, she says he would never allow her to speak to any other man, even at her workplace, saying he was very possessive about her.
Sohail worked at a salon. After the two became a couple, he got her a job in a garments shop right in front of the salon. “From there, he would keep an eye on me,” she says. “At that time, I thought it was rather romantic though it suffocated me at times,” she adds.
Mamta says that he would take away her salary of Rs 6,000 every month, leaving her with only Rs 1,000, saying he would invest it and double it in no time. Now she says she has been fleeced of all her money.
She further says, “He could get very abusive and controlling. He has slapped me on the road and in restaurant. He would get aggressive with me even at my workplace. This is why I changed several jobs,” she says.
Mamta says her father works as a cook while her brother runs a fruit stall in a market.
She says her parents, when they learnt about Saurav, refused to accept her relationship. After his real identity was revealed, they distanced from her. She says she has gone too far ahead in the relationship to call it quits immediately after she found our his reality.
Mamta says that after she ran away from Sohail’s house, she has returned to her parents. They have been supportive since then.
In between the conversation, she said that Sohail expressed his desire to have another wife at some point in the future. “He said he would get one wife from his own Muslim community,” she says, adding that that was a point of no return for her.
Now, Mamta is struggling to get her life on track, as she has “earned a bad name” in the area due to her relationship with Sohail. She says her friend Saloni was as surprised as she was to learn that Saurav was Sohail.
This correspondent checks Mamta’s status updates on WhatsApp routinely. One day, she posted a video in which she was making cut marks on her wrist with a song playing in the background. This correspondent tried consoling her that she was not alone in this fight.
Mamta says she wants justice, that she does not want “that man” to ever come out of jail.
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