Monday, 30th October 2017

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Mob attack aborts inter-faith wedding

The couple in their mid-twenties could have barely imagined what awaited them outside lawyer Manoj Kumar Teotia's office on Monday afternoon as they sought an online appointment for their inter-faith wedding at the sub-registrar's office in Ghaziabad, just east into Uttar Pradesh from the outskirts of Delhi.

By V. Kumara Swamy in Ghaziabad
  • Published 25.07.18
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Ghaziabad: The couple in their mid-twenties could have barely imagined what awaited them outside lawyer Manoj Kumar Teotia's office on Monday afternoon as they sought an online appointment for their inter-faith wedding at the sub-registrar's office in Ghaziabad, just east into Uttar Pradesh from the outskirts of Delhi.

"Both seemed relaxed and the girl had even come with a relative as a witness," said Teotia. It was already 2 in the afternoon and Teotia was unsure if the Muslim man and the Hindu woman's marriage could be registered the same day. The couple had approached Teotia through a lawyer friend of his.

By 2.30 Teotia could see several men milling around his office in the Tehsil Compound, a congested area dotted with hundreds of matchbox-sized chambers of lawyers and roadside eateries.

"There were around 20 men. Some of them were on bikes and the others (had come) on foot. One of them entered my office and asked the aspiring groom to come out. As soon as he did, he was mobbed and it was a free-for-all. I don't think the couple or their companions had any clue about these people," Teotia told The Telegraph. (The paper is withholding the names of the couple in the interests of privacy and protection.)

The ruckus went on for around half an hour. The groom-to-be was beaten up badly. His fiancée, her relative and a friend were also roughed up.

A lone policeman from the nearby police chowki tried to come to their rescue but was overpowered and ran away to call for reinforcements. Soon two PCR vans arrived, scooped up the couple and went to Sihani Gate police station, roughly 3km away. The marriage registration was aborted for the day.

"I could hear some of the men screaming ' Jai Shri Ram' and telling the man 'Aur love jihad karega?' while punching and kicking him," said Vinod Kumar, a court document carrier and an eyewitness.

According to Teotia, it was the girl who did most of the talking. "She was very clear that it was a love marriage and that she wanted to go ahead with it. Her fiancé spoke less. All this talk of coercion or love jihad is nonsense," he said.

"It was a heart-rending scene with the girl crying loudly with hardly anybody coming to her help," says Mahavir, a waiter at a roadside eatery and an eyewitness.

Nobody this reporter spoke to had any clue how so many people had come to know about the registration of this inter-faith marriage. "We are investigating that angle too," said a policeman at Sihani Gate police station.

Residents said they had never seen the attackers before, nor have the police named any group as a suspect. "Nobody has claimed responsibility so far. Nor was the group carrying any flag or anything like that," said a policeman.

The young man is a resident of Noida's Daulatpur according to his Aadhaar card, and his 25-year-old fiancée is from Bijnor, western Uttar Pradesh.

The police said the couple had been "handed over" to their respective families after medical examinations.