A policeman outside shooter Tara Shahdeo’s (inset) residence in Ranchi on Saturday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, Aug. 30: The past couple of months have been nothing less than hellish for Tara Shahdeo, the nation-level rifle shooter, who has accused her husband of hidden identity, faith crime and physical assault in a purported case of “love jihad”.
But the torture and humiliation that she allegedly faced at the hands of Ranjit Singh Kohli, alias Rakibul Hassan (30) — now in police custody — her gutsy escape from her marital home, where she was forcefully converted into Islam, and the allegations and counter-allegations that she was subjected to once she filed a police complaint against her influential husband could not distract Tara from her goal — to excel in the sport she has made a name in.
Tara, who has notched several medals in state and national meets, wants to get back to shooting practice as soon as possible and prepare for the upcoming competitions, a wish she voiced before chief minister Hemant Soren during a meeting last night.
“At the meeting last night, the chief minister asked what I wanted from him apart from a CBI inquiry. I expressed my desire to resume practice soon. The chief minister directed senior superintendent of police (SSP) Prabhat Kumar to make proper arrangements for my security so that I could start practising without being harassed by anyone,” the 23-year-old told The Telegraph in an exclusive interview a day after Hemant recommended a CBI probe in the case.
She added that the SSP was expected to visit her residence and take a written application for security arrangements at the shooting range at Hotwar.
At home too, Tara is currently being guarded by five police personnel.
SSP Kumar did not take any calls today as he was busy interrogating Kohli, who was arrested along with mother Kaushalya Rani (64) from Delhi on Tuesday night and brought to Ranchi the day after.
Later, he confirmed by an SMS about the chief minister’s instructions to him on Tara’s security needs.
Hailing from a royal family of Gumla, Tara, who resides in Kishoregunj in the state capital, tied the knot with Kohli on July 7. On the same night, her husband, who had introduced himself as a Hindu, revealed his true identity and ordered her to embrace Islam.
Two days later, he allegedly called a kazi and forced her into nikah. When she protested and refused to accept the forced change of faith, he allegedly tried to break her spine besides subjecting her to other ignominious torture.
Tara finally managed to escape on August 19 when Kohli was away in Delhi and lodged an FIR with Hindpiri police the same day.
The case has caused a national stir with the Union home minister seeking a report on the purported angle of ‘love jihad’, a term coined by Hindu groups to describe sham marriages that are solemnised to force religious conversion.
A registrar (vigilance) of Jharkhand High Court, Mustaque Ahmed, has been suspended too for his alleged links with the key accused. More heads are set to roll in the judicial circle after it emerged that a first-class judicial magistrate in Bihar had allegedly helped Kohli’s mother to escape to Delhi.
Probe so far
Home secretary N.N. Pandey told The Telegraph today that they were preparing a letter to request the CBI to take over the Tara Shahdeo case. The recommendation will be made under Section VI of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
CID, special branch and intelligence bureau officers, who interrogated Kohli at Jagannathpur police station today, said information revealed by him suggests that he had links with judicial officers and several influential persons in the administration.
“Six mobile phones were recovered from him. Out of the six, two belong to Rajesh Kumar (a judicial magistrate of Sherghati). Kohli used to operate eight bank accounts, all of which have been sealed,” said SP (city) Anoop Birtharay.
Former chief minister and Leader of Opposition Arjun Munda and former BJP MLA Sarayu Roy today demanded immediate removal of state ministers Suresh Paswan (RJD) and Haji Hussain Ansari (JMM) for their alleged links to Kohli. “We welcome a CBI probe. But for the interest of a fair probe, these two ministers should either resign or be removed,” Munda said at a news conference.
Union minister of social justice and empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot, who was in Ranchi today, also expressed solidarity with Tara.
“The central government will take the right decision now that the case has been recommended to the CBI. The moment the home minister returns to Delhi, this matter will be taken up. It’s a clear case of human rights violation,” Gehlot said.