The Moradabad Miscarriage: One Year On, Many Discrepancies Yet No Official Probe

Despite the suspicious circumstances in which the miscarriage occurred, why has there been no probe on the matter?

10 min read
Hindi Female

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It’s been one year since Muskan, a woman in her early twenties, had a miscarriage in Moradabad under the most suspicious of circumstances - while her husband Rashid was in jail under UP’s controversial ‘love jihad’ law.

The case made national and international headlines, but the suspicious circumstances and many discrepancies surrounding the miscarriage were left unprobed by the authorities in Uttar Pradesh.

One year on, as UP gears into election season and the ‘love jihad’ law becomes a key feature of electoral discourse, it is important to look back at what was arguably the most prominently highlighted case under the law, and examine the questions it raises about the conduct of the state authorities.

A Quick Flashback to What Had Happened

Despite the suspicious circumstances in which the miscarriage occurred, why has there been no probe on the matter?

Muskan and Rashid met each other for the first time in Dehradun.

(Photo: The Quint)

When Rashid met Muskan, she hadn’t yet adopted that name. She was known as Pinky. He was a Muslim, and she a Hindu. Though both of them hailed from UP, they met each other for the first time in Dehradun, where they worked.

They fell in love, and got married in a masjid in Dehradun’s Azad Colony. Pinky had converted to Islam and adopted the name Muskan.

A few weeks later, they left for Rashid’s home in Kanth, Moradabad. In the days that followed, their household in Kanth was a happy one. Muskan was in the first trimester of her pregnancy and Rashid was elated that he was about to become a father soon.

As is common in such marriages, couples who go against their parents’ wishes (for marrying outside their caste or their faith) often choose to get married first, and then seek the approval of their families once the deed is done. The reverse – to make the families agree first and then get married – is usually considered a tougher prospect.

Post the families coming around, the couple can then go ahead and get their marriage registered as well.

On 5 December 2020, that’s exactly what Muskan set out to do.


She went to meet a lawyer, to seek his help in getting her marriage to Rashid registered. She was accompanied by her mother-in-law Naseem Jahan and Rashid’s brother Saleem. The lawyer asked them to return in a while.

As they left his chambers and were walking back, they were suddenly accosted by a group of members of the Bajrang Dal, led by local strongman Monu Vishnoi.
Despite the suspicious circumstances in which the miscarriage occurred, why has there been no probe on the matter?

Bajrang Dal members accost Muskan.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

On 27 November, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh had promulgated the Yogi Adityanath government’s Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, colloquially referred to as the ‘love jihad’ law.

One week later, in the premises of the Kanth police station, a Bajrang Dal member thundered at Muskan, “Ye tum jaise logon ke liye banana pada hai (this law had to be made for people like you).” The police stood by and watched as Muskan was publicly harangued by the Bajrang Dal within the thana premises.

“I married of my own free will. We have been married for five months now”, she kept repeating. But her fervent protestations were of no avail – and were met with continued hostility.

Rashid’s mother Naseem Jahan recalls the Bajrang Dal members saying, “Arre koi baat nahi, iska baccha khatam karwa do. No problem, someone get her child aborted.”

Nahi, main baccha nahi khoyungi. I will not lose my child. You are ruining my life. This is my first child, how can I let it go? I will not let it go,” Muskan kept arguing.

In the hours that followed, Muskan’s life turned upside down. Her husband Rashid and his brother Saleem were jailed, booked under the new ‘love jihad’ law by the UP police. They were accused of having forcibly converted Muskan from Hinduism to Islam.


And a three-months-pregnant Muskan was taken, against her will, to a Nari Niketan shelter home in Moradabad, even though she wanted to be back home with her in-laws.

“They did not ask her, or us, before forcibly sending her to Nari Niketan. Muskan was refusing to go there. She kept saying, “I don’t want to go there.” She is an adult. How can she be sent there forcibly?”
Naseem Jahan

Speaking to The Quint, Muskan too reiterates that she had expressly told them that she didn’t want to be taken to the ‘safe home’. She wished to continue living with her in-laws.

Senior lawyer Vrinda Grover comments, “The UP Police in the Moradabad incident, putting the young, adult woman into a ‘safe home’ like a Nari Niketan while her husband Rashid is put in jail is an illegal detention of the woman because it is against her wishes. The courts have said this repeatedly, the law is very clear, the Constitution is very clear. Women are as much independent citizens as any man is. In the guise of protecting her, she is put in an institutional home. This is an illegal detention. An adult woman can stay wherever she wants. Just because her husband is not around, she does not need state protection.”

KEY QUESTION 1: Why was Muskan, an adult woman, kept in a Nari Niketan shelter home against her will? The police records show that she had not been arrested in the case and neither were there any charges levelled against her. Why then was she not allowed to stay with her in-laws as she demanded?

And It All Goes Wrong…

A few days into her stay at Nari Niketan, Muskan began feeling a pain in her abdomen. She was admitted to the Moradabad district women’s hospital on 11 December. An ultrasound was done the following day, the results of which, she claims, were not even shared with her.

Why were the results of the ultrasound not shared with the patient? More on the importance of this in a bit, but let’s get back to the chronology of events for now.

Muskan returned to Nari Niketan on the morning of December 13, but was readmitted to hospital later the same day. A medical note from the hospital accessed by The Quint shows that she had had vaginal bleeding.

Late on 13 December, Dr Vishesh Gupta, then chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, who was updating the media about the developments around Muskan’s health, repeatedly asserted that the ultrasound showed that the foetus had a clear heartbeat and that both the woman and the foetus were alright.

When this reporter met Gupta at the hospital on the morning of 14 December 2020, he continued to downplay all concerns. “The foetus is safe” was his constant refrain.

Despite the suspicious circumstances in which the miscarriage occurred, why has there been no probe on the matter?

Dr Vishesh Gupta, then chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights

(Photo: The Quint)


But just a few minutes later, Dr Nirmala Pathak, senior consultant at the district women's hospital in Moradabad, struck a much more cautious note. “We cannot state whether the foetus is entirely safe. The ultrasonologist has advised that we get a transvaginal (TVS) test done.” On the same day, Dr Pathak, who was standing in for the chief medical superintendent and was the ranking medical officer, told The Hindu, “The foetus was visible in the ultrasound. But the heartbeat could not be observed clearly.

Dr RP Mishra, who performed the ultrasound scan, told the media, “We were doubtful about the baby when the first ultrasound was performed. The heartbeat was not found. For the second test, we used a Doppler ultrasound, but the heartbeat couldn’t be found then either.”

KEY QUESTION 2: The question that arises then is - why did Dr Vishesh Gupta, then chairperson of the UP government’s child rights body, give contrary information to the media about Muskan’s health, and specifically, about the condition of the foetus? Even when the doctors saw that there was no discernible heartbeat, why did he continue asserting that the foetus was absolutely fine?

The Quint has reached out multiple times to Dr Vishesh Gupta for responses to these questions, but to no avail. This article will be updated if and when he responds.

On 11 December, Muskan had been given an injection at the hospital without being told what it was for. Again on 13 and 14 December, Muskan was administered some injections and made to consume a few tablets.

On the evening of 14 December, she began bleeding heavily. She went to the toilet and checked herself – and saw a chunk of flesh along with the blood. She knew, in that terrifying instant, that she had likely lost her unborn child. Muskan says, “I told the woman doctor at the hospital what had happened. But she didn’t say anything in response.”

The following day, a distraught and grieving Muskan was told that she could finally go home. A Moradabad court had ordered her release from detention.

Even when Muskan was being discharged from hospital, she says she was not given any of the test reports.

“They did not give me anything - neither my ultrasound reports nor a list of what medicines and injections I had been given.”
KEY QUESTION 3: Why did the district women’s hospital not share the test reports with their patient Muskan, as well as the details of what medicines and injections she had been administered?

Dr Sumit Ray, a leading intensive care specialist at Delhi’s Holy Family Hospital, clarifies, “The patient has every right and access to a copy of all the reports, even if it is a medicolegal case.” Why was she not provided this information then?

The Quint has also reached out to Dr Nirmala Pathak for the hospital’s response to these questions. She has not responded to our queries so far. This article will be updated if and when the hospital authorities respond.

Additionally, at no point did the district women’s hospital intimate Muskan about the news of the miscarriage. Muskan says, “Even while discharging me, they didn’t confirm to me that I had had a miscarriage.” She had to go to a private lab after her release to confirm her suspicion that she had lost her unborn child.

Despite the suspicious circumstances in which the miscarriage occurred, why has there been no probe on the matter?

Dr Nirmala Pathak, senior consultant at the district women's hospital in Moradabad and the ranking medical officer at the time

(Photo: The Quint)

KEY QUESTION 4: Given that the district women’s hospital was where she had been admitted while being held in the custody of the state, what possible reason could the hospital have for not informing her about this crucial medical development?

Did the hospital conduct the follow-up tests that Dr Nirmala Pathak had spoken about as being necessary to confirm a miscarriage? If not, why? And if they had, then on what date did the hospital conclude that Muskan had suffered a miscarriage - and why wasn’t Muskan informed of the same?

Senior gynaecologists state that it is standard practice for doctors to prescribe a course of antibiotics and painkillers after any miscarriage. Without those medicines, the woman is highly vulnerable to contracting uterine infections, which could even prevent her chances of conceiving a child in the future.

Muskan alleges, “They did not give me any such medicines.” She adds that her health had remained very poor for three to four months following the miscarriage.

KEY QUESTION 5: Why did the district women’s hospital not prescribe any antibiotics to Muskan, risking her health?

Despite All These Suspicious Circumstances and Discrepancies, Why No Probe?

Sections 312, 313 and 315 of the Indian Penal Code stipulate that if a pregnant woman is forced to miscarry in bad faith, or without the woman's consent, then those responsible must be punished. The term of punishment for a forced miscarriage can range up to life imprisonment.

KEY QUESTION 6: Yet, despite the cloud of suspicion regarding the circumstances in which the miscarriage took place, why has there been no probe into the matter? Why was Muskan’s repeated claim – that she was likely given abortifacients (substances which induce an abortion) against her will – not investigated at all?

Asked whether they had considered filing an official police complaint on the matter, Muskan said that she was too hassled during that time to consider approaching the police. Rashid was still in jail at the time of her miscarriage.

Muskan says, “I had thought of complaining but then I didn’t - I was too sick to get into that whole procedure of complaining (and following up).”

A year later, Rashid looks back and says, “One of the reasons we didn’t complain is because we didn’t want any more trouble than we had already faced.”

But even without Muskan filing a complaint herself, the authorities could have instituted an inquiry into the matter given the allegations she had made and the details of the suspicious circumstances that were already in the public domain?

Questioning the lack of a probe, lawyer Vrinda Grover says, “The woman is saying she’s had a miscarriage. She was in the control and custody of the state. In such circumstances, why is there no enquiry taking place? Here is a very, very serious circumstance where the medical profession, the police, law enforcement are all embroiled. Would it not help us to know what exactly happened? Has anybody failed in their duties and if they have, they (should) be taken to account.”

Despite the suspicious circumstances in which the miscarriage occurred, why has there been no probe on the matter?

Senior lawyer Vrinda Grover asks, "Why is there no enquiry taking place?"

(Photo: The Quint)


The Loss of Their Unborn Child, and the Lack of Closure Since

On 19 December, Rashid and Saleem were released from a prison in Moradabad, as per court orders, after the UP Police submitted a report stating that it did not have any evidence of wrongdoing by Rashid or his brother Saleem.

Muskan recounts, “I told him about the miscarriage after he returned home. He couldn’t believe it. He began weeping, and both of us just cried together.”

Rashid adds, “We had so many plans for our child. It felt like the ground was pulled away from under my feet. This was clearly a conspiracy at play - this could not have happened naturally. Muskan wasn’t even shown the reports. They said that there had been no miscarriage. They were all involved in this. There should have been an investigation into this.”

Rashid and Muskan packed their bags once again and returned to Dehradun at the beginning of 2021. Yet, even a year after their ordeal, the questions surrounding the miscarriage in Moradabad remain unanswered - raising concerns about the conduct of the police, hospital authorities and government bodies alike.

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