The Print, which has earned a reputation for distorting facts and peddling fake narratives, is back with its sinister agenda. And this time the Uttar Pradesh police is on its hit list. On Saturday morning, the Print published an article titled, ‘UP woman hid Muslim boyfriend’s name to marry him. Now he’s in jail for ‘deceit, conversion’.
The article centred around two individuals, namely 29-year-old Priya Verma and 32-year-old Taufiq. While portraying the latter as the victim, The Print claimed that Taufiq was put behind bars on December 20 by the Gursahaiganj police in UP under the new anti-conversion law enacted by the UP government, despite not trying to convert his Hindu wife Priya. It alleged that Priya had introduced Taufiq as ‘Rahul Verma’ (Hindu-sounding name) to her parents in order to get their marriage approved, and hence no crime was committed by Taufiq even if initially he had introduced himself as Hindu to the girl.
The Print argued that Priya was well-aware of his ‘religious identity’ at the time of their marriage and that he had made no demands for her conversion to Islam. The article stated that two days after their wedding, her family learnt that Taufiq was a Muslim and that they filed a complaint with the police, with the help of a local BJP leader, to ‘falsely’ accuse him of ‘deceit and conversion.’
With a clickbait headline, the news portal tried to insinuate how a Muslim man is being victimised for being in love with a Hindu woman under the new ‘Love Jihad’ law in the state, even though she was the one who had supposedly engaged in deceit. The article tried to give the impression that the newly enacted anti-conversion law, meant to contain the growing menace of grooming jihad, is directed to harass ‘religious minorities’ and strip them of the right to marry their partners in the BJP ruled the State of Uttar Pradesh.
Taufiq lured Priya into love using a Hindu name
Having said that, nothing can be further from the truth. First, it must be pointed out that Taufiq had initially lied to Priya about his ‘real’ identity. “In the initial days of their courtship, Priya stated, Taufiq did lie to her about being Hindu but later told her the truth himself,” the article itself stated. As such, it becomes clear that Taufiq had engaged in ‘impersonation’ and ‘deceit’. Even though Priya told The Print that the reason for lying was that he did not want to lose her, it however does not change the fact that the courtship was premised on a fraudulent identity.
Was it a case of police high handedness?
While speaking to The Print, SHO (Gursahaiganj) Raja Dinesh Singh informed that even though Priya claimed to have known about the real identity of Taufiq, she herself had testified against him before the police and the Magistrate. “In these cases, the woman’s statement is the evidence so that will become the basis of the case,” he emphasised.
Singh stated on December 24, Priya was produced before the court, along with the case diary. “The judge said that if the woman supports her statement to police recorded under Section 161, then that will be considered her 164 CrPC statement. Since the woman said she supports whatever she told police in her statement, and since she is not a minor, it was considered as final,” he emphasised.
Now, since the victim herself gave a statement against the accused, both before the police and the Magistrate, therefore the cops had no option but to follow the lawful procedure and act against Taufiq. And this is despite the fact that Priya now claims to have been under pressure and duress while giving her statement.
Why did the local BJP leader intervene?
The Print also attempted to give the issue a political twist by imploring that the complaint was filed in the first place on the directions of a local BJP leader named Vinay. In his defence, Vinay said that he intervened in the matter because the proper procedure for an inter-faith marriage was not followed. He emphasised that he else would not have intervened altogether, if the procedure for interfaith marriage was followed.
“If he wanted to get married to her, he should have given a representation to the DM (district magistrate), waited for two months…We would have had no objection if he had followed procedure and not cheated the family by hiding his identity. Religious deceit will not be tolerated at any cost,” Verma added.
In his own words, Priya’s father thanked Verma for his support. He stated, “We were misled by Taufiq. When no one from his family turned up for the wedding, he told us that his family stays in Jaipur and that he has cut all ties with him. Thank God we were helped by local BJP leaders and now that cheat is in jail.”
Therefore, even though now the girl has said that she knew the real identity of Taufiq, it does not mean no crime was committed and the UP police is showing high-handedness as the Print is alleging. According to the new law, the couple needs to give advance notice, and the fact remains that Taufiq introduced himself as Rahul to the girl and later to her parents, which means the relationship was initiated based on a big lie.