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Varanasi: Tired of being forced by husband Aftab and his family to adopt Islam, aspiring model Pooja commits suicide, locals call it a case of Love Jihad

Aftab who along with his family did not want Pooja to pursue her career in acting started regularly picking up fights with her. He mostly came back home drunk and beat up Pooja.

In yet another case of suspected Love Jihad, one Pooja Patel, a resident of Varanasi married to Mohammad Aftab Siddiqui of Lucknow, committed suicide by hanging herself in her house. The incident happened under the limits of Bhelupur police station, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh on late Friday evening, reports Hindi daily Jagran. While the girl’s family has pinned the blame of their daughter’s death on her husband Aftab and his family, the police said that prima facie investigation reveals that the cause of the incident was a dispute between husband and wife. Meanwhile, locals suspect that the girl was murdered by the husband’s family, which was pressurising her to adopt Islam.

Bhelupur Police station in-charge, Ajay Shrotriya, who reached the spot after receiving the information took Aftab into custody for questioning and Pooja’s body was sent for post mortem.

Pooja pressurised to adopt and abide by the beliefs and practices in Islam

The girl’s family confirmed that Pooja was aspiring to be a model and had been to Mumbai before the lockdown to peruse her dreams. They alleged that Aftab’s family were opposed to Pooja’s outgoing nature and use to pressurise her to adopt their way of living and abide by the beliefs and practices in Islam. Pooja, on the other hand, refused to be cowed by her in-law’s veiled threats. Owing to this, tensions between the husband and wife rose, pushing Pooja to take her life.

Pooja’s mother Kiran alleged that the problems started when Mohammad Aftab’s mother came to live with them in Varanasi. She started exerting pressure on Pooja to practice only Islam inwardly. She insisted that Pooja reads Namaz 5 times in a day. Moreover, Pooja’s in-laws pressurised her to quit modelling and acting as they thought it to be un-Islamic.

Pooja, meanwhile, stuck to her guns. She was not averse to following her husband’s custom but at the same time, Pooja refused to give up her beliefs. On one hand, she celebrated Hindu festivals like Karva Chauth, while on the other, she visited her in-laws during Eid. In fact, when her son was born she gave him a Hindu name-Naksh. She was also persistent in following her passion.

Pooja left Varanasi to make a career in acting

Pooja’s family confirmed that she had gone to Mumbai to make a career in acting. However, she came back to her husband during the lockdown. The problems began when after a few days, Pooja started insisting on going back to Mumbai. Aftab who along with his family did not want Pooja to pursue her career in acting started regularly picking up fights with her. He mostly came back home drunk and beat up Pooja. The girl’s mother recollects how she had also tried to convince Aftab’s family by showing Pooja’s modelling assignment pictures, but they remained undeterred. Aftab’s family started harassing her. Pooja, who started feeling stifled, started contemplating seeking a divorce from Aftab. She had also conveyed this to her family and her husband. Pooja who was upset, after all, this eventually embraced death.

Pooja’s neighbour’s testimony

Meanwhile, Aftab’s neighbours confirmed that the duo frequently fought. That day too, both had fought and went into separate rooms to sleep. According to the neighbour’s, at about 12 in the night, the husband started banging the door of Pooja’s room. Hearing the noise, when all the neighbours collected outside Aftab’s house, they saw Pooja hanging from the ceiling fan of her room. The door was broken in a hurry. The neighbours rushed Pooja to a private hospital from where she was taken to the Divisional Hospital in Kabirchaura where doctors declared her dead.

Pooja’s family who also lives in Varanasi allege Aftab’s family pressure prompted Pooja to commit suicide

Pooja Patel’s father Shivkumar confirmed that the duo fell in love five years ago. For almost two years, Pooja lived with Aftab in a rented house near Fatman in Sigra, Varanasi. After that, for the next three years, they lived in a rented house belonging to one Ishwar Chandra in Badi Gabi, Varanasi. Pooja’s mother Kiran Patel, confirmed that a Maulvi had read the duo’s Nikah in this rented house.

Pooja’s parents told that for the last three years, the duo was living happily until Aftab’s mother came to live with them after three years. She did not like Pooja and wanted to her to be out of her son’s life. It was on her instructions that Aftab started harassing her. He started coming back home drunk and beat Pooja. Even on the night of the incident, Pooja’s family alleged that Aftab had beaten her up. Fed up of these quarrels and torture, Pooja committed suicide, said Kiran Patel.

Aftab’s version

Meanwhile, Aftab, Pooja’s husband, told Jagran that Pooja wanted to become a model and had gone to Mumbai before the lockdown to pursue her dreams. He said that when she wanted to go back to Mumbai, he tried explaining to her that their child was young and he needed his mother’s attention and care. Aftab said that he told Pooja that it would be difficult for him to raise the child alone. The argument over this increased on the night of the incident and Aftab went to sleep in another room. After a while, when Aftab knocked on the door of Pooja’s room when he heard no sound of the cooler or the fan from her room. Aftab said that he got suspicious when he did not get the sound of her mobile because Pooja was addicted to PUBG and she often played the game on her mobile. “When no sound came from the room, then I looked through the window and saw Pooja hanging from the fan”, said Aftab to the Hindi Daily Jagran.

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