A Hindu boy, 20, meets a Muslim girl, 18, and they fall in love. Girl’s father accuses boy of kidnap and rape. Boy is arrested, professes love for girl in court. Boy marries girl, with the blessings of girl’s father, who forgives and forgets. Boy and girl live happily... but not ever after.
Eleven years after Suraj Sonakar was slapped with the charge of kidnapping and raping Noor-e-Khatun, the case long forgotten has returned to haunt the family. Suraj has been married to Noor for over 10 years now and they have two sons — Raj in Class IV and Pappu in Class III.
In June this year, the fruit merchant in Howrah was picked up and thrown behind bars for having abducted Noor and taken her to Digha 11 summers ago.
It was only after the ‘victim’ — the wife of the accused and the mother of his two sons — pleaded his case did the high court realise the folly of police action against Suraj Sonakar and granted him bail on Thursday.
The family saga dates back to August 28, 1996, when Suraj, a resident of Chhoto Durgapur, in Howrah, and Noor went to Digha for a holiday.
The same day, Noor’s father, Mohammad Hanif, lodged the complaint against Suraj with Bally police station.
Suraj was arrested on his return from Digha. But when he stood up in court and said he wanted to marry Noor, the Howrah sessions judge’s court granted Suraj interim bail.
Noor’s father relented and the two got married in early 1997. Suraj and Noor settled down to a happy married life, while Suraj and his father-in-law got along famously.
Things changed dramatically after Mohammad Hanif died last year and trouble broke out in the family.
On June 16, Howrah police arrested Suraj. The police claimed he had been absconding and so could not be produced before the Howrah sessions judge’s court where a criminal case lodged against him by Mohammad Hanif was pending since 1996.
Suraj was produced before the sessions judge’s court, which refused to grant him bail as he was a rape accused.
Suraj’s parents and his mother-in-law moved a joint petition before the high court. Noor moved a separate petition. Both explained the circumstances and prayed for Suraj’s release.
After hearing both sides, the division bench of Justice Amit Talukdar and Justice Arun Kumar Bhattacharya asked the state to release Suraj. “The complainant had alleged that the accused had raped his daughter. But, in fact, he has been spending conjugal life with that woman for so many years and the entire family is dependent on his income. So we are granting him bail,” the bench said.