Marriage turns nightmare for UP inter-caste couple

NEW DELHI: Jatin Kumar (23) and Priya (19) didn’t pause to weigh the consequences before falling in love four years ago. Sikandra Rao, their hometown in west UP’s Hathras district, is a hair-trigger place with sharp divisions of caste and community. Love got free rein when Priya joined Jatin’s college (both names have been changed), but not for long. When Priya told her family she wanted to marry Jatin, she says she was beaten and confined at home. Her father “sexually abused” her to teach her a lesson for forgetting caste lines. Priya is a Yadav, an OBC caste, while Jatin is a Jatav, a scheduled caste (SC).

Priya says she would have become another ‘honour killing’ statistic but she escaped from home on May 8 to be with Jatin, who works in Delhi. They married a day later and have been on a nerve-wracking honeymoon ever since. They have changed their address six times in a month and are in hiding now because UP Police picked up Jatin’s relatives who sheltered them in Delhi. Claiming that she is a minor, Priya’s family has slapped a kidnapping case on Jatin and his family.

The couple is planning to move Delhi high court on Monday to seek protection from Priya’s family and to get the FIR against Jatin and his family quashed. Their hometown has been tense following news of their marriage and six of Jatin’s family members—including his parents—are in custody. Jatin says there is no word about the whereabouts of his minor siblings.

Priya’s father is “relatively” wealthy with a shop in town and 50 bighas of land. He is also said to be politically connected. Jatin’s family are farmers and his community is in a minority in the town.

Delhi-based lawyer Vijay Pratap Singh helped the couple marry by Arya Samaj rites on May 9. He says her family has been pestering him to disclose the couple’s whereabouts, and her maternal uncle offered him Rs 1.5 lakh to get their original marriage certificate.

On May 12, three days after their marriage, Priya wrote to the SHO of Sikandra Rao police station and the SSP stating that she is an adult and married Jatin willingly. She mentioned the torture she had to bear at home and requested the officials to free Jatin’s family. Singh says UP Police received the letter but continue to harass Jatin’s family.

“They locked me for about 20 days. Everyone beat me. On most days, I was not given food, not even water. They were planning to kill me and my father even tried to rape me. We love each other and now we are married. This is no crime. Police should release my husband’s family members. Most police officials are of the Yadav community. It has become a prestige issue for them,” Priya said.

She recalls that even her mother didn’t try to protect her. “When I told my mother about my father’s intentions, she said he’s your father, nothing can be done. She knew he was planning to kill me but said aisa kaam karegi toh maregi hi (you have brought it upon yourself).”

Singh says Priya had reached Delhi very pale and weak on May 8 but looks much better now. Priya smiles and adds, “Yes, I am much better now because I am with him.” Jatin, who lost his job as a discom’s recovery agent because of their stressful situation, has found a new job which pays him about Rs 8,000 a month, It’s less than what he got earlier, but he says he dosen’t mind because Priya is in a much better state now

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