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Centre lens on Tara torment

Ranchi, Aug. 26: The Union home ministry has sought a report from the Jharkhand government on a purported case of ‘love jihad’ involving a young markswoman and her “dubious” husband who she has accused of hiding identity to marry her, forceful conversion bid and torture.

State home secretary N.N. Pandey said his office received a faxed message from the ministry late on Monday evening, asking them to shed light on national-level rifle shooter Tara Shahdeo’s disturbing allegations against Ranjit Singh Kohli, alias Rakibul Hassan, and added that they were already on the job.

“After reading the central communiqué, I held discussions with the DGP (Rajeev Kumar) and directed him to submit a report to me as early as possible. I expect the same by this (Tuesday) evening and will forward it to the Centre immediately,” Pandey told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

He, however, underscored that the report would be preliminary in nature. “It will contain some basics of the case like details of the FIR and action taken by the state in the matter so far. A detailed report is not possible right now because investigations are still on.”

Chief minister Hemant Soren expressed his concern over Tara’s plight, but condemned Monday’s bandh violence. “I have full sympathy for the victim and the guilty will be punished. However, we cannot blame an entire community for this incident and attack them in public places on the pretext of a bandh,” he said.

Ranchi SP (city) Anoop Birtharay said they had been instructed to send a report to the police headquarters. “We have started preparing the same in the Tara Shahdeo case.”

The 23-year-old shooter, a resident of Kishoregunj in the state capital, stirred a hornet’s nest on August 19.

She lodged an FIR with Hindpiri police against Kohli, having escaped from her husband’s now sealed Blair Apartments flat the same day. She accused the man — who runs a dubious voluntary outfit, has amassed a fortune through mysterious dealings and has political links — of faith crime and physical assault.

The FIR was registered under Section 498A (domestic violence) despite Tara repeatedly insisting that she had been tormented for over a month for conversion into Islam. Later, the shooter accused police of not hunting down Kohli who was in Ranchi till August 20 afternoon.

Love jihad, a disparaging term coined by orthodox Hindu groups to deplore “sham marriages” being solemnised by people of the minority community to “engineer unlawful conversions”, triggered vehement protests on August 24. Police were prompted to seal two flats rented by Kohli in posh Ranchi neighbourhoods and seize half a dozen vehicles.

Saffron outfits such as the VHP and the Shiv Sena sponsored a bandh in the capital on Monday, which evoked good response. Kohli’s passport was impounded the same day after police moved a request with the regional passport office in Ranchi.

The court of chief judicial magistrate has issued an arrest warrant against Tara’s tormentor and directed police to prosecute him under two more IPC sections after from 498A. These are 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting religious beliefs) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).

Accused Kohli was at large till the filing of this report on Tuesday evening.


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