Sep 2, 2008

Hindu Boy Banned From Mewat Village

In Mewat, even the heart has to follow the "Dictates" of local Muslim panchayats. And the police dare NOT interfere. Zubeida, a Muslim girl and Neeraj, from a Hindu family in Goala village, were forced to part ways recently after the panchayat objected to their relationship.

The village elders ruled that Zubeida will have to be married off to someone from her own community within 40 days of the verdict. The sentence handed out to Neeraj is even harsher. He has been banished from the village for five years. Nobody in the village objected to the verdict as the female sarpanch — who told The Indian Express that being a female, she could not be identified — dismissed the gathering.

Welcome to Mewat, which though hardly a couple of hours drive from New Delhi, lives by its own arab rules. The saga of Neeraj and Zubeida, is even more startling considering that the verdict was delivered in the local police station. The muslims who objected to the "unacceptable" affair held a panchayat meeting inside the Tauru PS. But senior police officials are quick to deny this. "I'm unaware of this and no villagers from Goala village have approached us with such a problem," says SHO Anoop Singh.

The police may have its reasons to feign ignorance but Neeraj's family clearly told the paper that they handed the lovebirds over to the cops on September 24. They say they were left with no other choice as a village mob of muslims threatened them with violence. "The girl wanted to elope with the boy as she feared that her parents would marry her off to someone against her wishes," a villager said.

"The police then contacted the girl's family and asked them to resolve the matter. Consequently, a panchayat comprising of nearly 70 members from the Goala and other nearby villages went to the police station on September 25 and announced the verdict in the police station itself," said an former sarpanch of the village. "They were all there. Sarpanch Kasam, ex-sarpanch Nijju Gujla, Balram and Dulli were all present when the verdict was announced in the police station," the former sarpanch said. Affairs, especially inter-religious, are a sensitive matter in Mewat, which has the majority of people as muslims.

Zubeida is in the Class IX and Neeraj studies in Class X of the school in the village. Their houses are also in close vicinity. The couple had apparently eloped six months ago but were brought back to the village in September. They again managed to elope on September 23 but were caught from Sohna the very next day. They were then brought to the Tauru police station where the muslims announced their verdict.