An interfaith couple got married on Friday, 16 September 2022, despite being attacked two days earlier by members of a organisation with Hindutva ideology.
The couple, Mohammed Jaffar and Chaitra, who were abused and attacked, remained defiant and came to the sub-registrar's office on their own will and legally registered their marriage under The Special Marriage Act, 1954.
Speaking to reporters in Chikkamagaluru, Chaitra, who is a Hindu, said, "They are giving us death threats. What right do they have? I am confident that he (Jaffar) will take care of me. I am happy being with him. How dare they stop us? It is our mutual decision."
How Did the Attack Unfold?
On 14 September, over six people attacked the couple – Chaitra, a Dalit woman, and Mohammed Jaffar, a Muslim man – who were at the Chikkamagaluru's sub-registrar's office to get married.
The couple were pushed around and the Muslim man was allegedly beaten up for loving a Hindu-Dalit woman. The situation turned tense and the couple were separated with the woman being taken to a rehabilitation centre and the man being taken away to a police station.
Speaking to reporters, Chaitra said, "We had gone to the sub-registrar's office and were done with the formalities. At around 2:00 pm, a person named Shamanna came to the place. He immediately started asking my husband-to-be why he wanted to marry a Hindu-SC girl. They thrashed and dragged him (Jaffar) down the stairs. When I tried to stop him, they pushed me and verbally abused me."
"They hit him to an electric pole and then took him away to a police station. No action was taken there. They told them to take him to a rural police station. I was trying to call him continuously. The goons received the call and forced me to say that I want to marry a Hindu boy. They then took him to a rural station and left him there. Why did they have to take him there? I’m the one getting married. Who are these people? Who are they to question us?" Chaitra asked.
Despite the families of the couple having agreed to their marriage, the two were not allowed to go ahead with the legal proceedings on 14 September. While Chaitra's parents pleaded with police officials to let them speak to her, Jaffar was kept at the Chikkamagaluru rural police station.
However, based on a complaint filed by Jaffar, the police registered an FIR against four people with links to a right-wing Hindutva outfit.
"We both are from Lakshmipura and have known each other from past three years. We love each other. Nobody from our families have opposed our marriage. Who are these people opposing it? We don't even know them. They are giving us death threats. What right do they have? I am confident that he (husband) will take care of me. I am happy being him. How dare they ask us about our lives?"Chaitra, Dalit Woman
The couple who got married two days later also held a press conference and asserted that they had made this choice themselves and that they had the support of both families. Addressing the media, the visibly upset couple claimed that there were threats against their lives and that the 'goons' who had attacked them could possibly hurt them again.
When questioned about whether Chaitra would convert to Islam after her marriage to Jaffar, she said that she doesn't know yet. "We had consent from both the families for the marriage. But we wanted to have a simple court marriage. We have not made a decision about conversion yet. But, isn't it the duty of the wife to follow her husband's dharma and practices," she added.
Police Arrest Four for 'Moral Policing'
A few hours after the attack on the interfaith couple, based on a complaint filed by Jaffar, the police in Chikkamagaluru arrested four people for "incident of moral policing."
Speaking to The Quint, Uma Prashanth, superintendent of police in Chikkamagaluru said, "An inter-faith couple was about to get married in sub-registrar's office. But, they were allegedly stopped by four people. We don't know which organisation they belong to. The people who stopped the marriage brought the Muslim boy to the station and later took him to rural police station. We later received a complaint from Jaffar (Muslim man) that the couple were attacked and abused by Hindu right-wing outfits. We have taken the complaint and the investigation is underway."
The police also confirmed to the reporters that the families of Chaitra and Jaffar were aware of their marriage and had no qualms about it.
The police have also been requested to give protection to the couple as their lives continues to be under threat.