And other converted brides with new names. Madhuparna Das travels to 4 Bengal districts and finds out how Hindu groups sheltered and ‘purified’ these Muslim women before marriage to Hindus
Sister married a muslim, brother ‘paid them back’
Ummekulchum Khatun, 22, now Antara Bachar
Ummekulchum married Rajshekhar Bachar, an RSS worker from Sundarban village in Minakhan, North 24-Parganas. He said he contacted Tapan Ghosh of Hindu Samhati and was told to go ahead. The bride converted to Hinduism after she eloped. The suddhikaran was facilitated by Ghosh, she says. “I call him my Baba. Without him, we would not have survived. My family would have taken me back forcibly. I am very happy now.”
Rajshekar runs a foodstall. “I was a student of Nimpith Ramkrishna Ashram. One of my sisters married a Muslim youth. But after she converted to Islam, she was confined to her house. She was never allowed to leave home. Her husband is my wife’s cousin. I paid them back in the same coin,” he said.
Sheltered and given a job
Ispa Naiya, 20, now Chhanda Sardar
She runs a small tailoring shop in Mandirbazar, South 24-Parganas. The Hindu Samhati helped open the shop. She eloped with Chandan Sardar when she was a little under 18. The Samhati sheltered her until she became an adult. “His parents did not accept me but came around later. My father filed a complaint against us. I lodged a counter-complaint against him. Both cases are still on. My life has changed but I am happy,” she said. The Hindu Samhati arranged a job for her husband as a guard with a private company. “They met my family and told them marrying a Muslim girl was a service to Hinduism,” Chandan said.
‘They told me I should return to my original religion’
Nirupa Sultana, 23, now Rupa Konra
A second-year college student, she converted to Hinduism on October 17, 2014. She now lives with husband Gopal Konra in Sankrail, Howrah. “I fell in love with Gopal Konra but lacked the courage to give up my religion. I was taken to Tapan Ghosh of Hindu Samhati and he told me my original religion was Hinduism and I should return to it, spend my life with my love. I ran away from home and lived in a shelter. I am happy now. I go to college everyday. My family has disowned me. I have accepted that too,” she said.
Both her names mean the same, VHP ‘uncle’ told her
Roshna, 20, now Jyotsna
She married 30-year-old Biswajit Sarkar, a farmer in a village near Baharampur in Murshidabad district. Roshna had to undergo suddhikaran in July 2014. Husband Biswajit switched loyalties from the Trinamool Congress to the BJP.
“We were kept in a VHP shelter. They facilitated our marriage and helped my family. I did not want to change my name. But the VHP jethu (uncle) told me Jyotsna and Roshna mean the same —moonlight,” she said. Father Aminuddin Sheikh lodged a case against her. Husband Biswajit said: “I liked her a lot but I was scared of the communal angle. Since I lived in a place where the minority were in majority, I was hesitant. But the VHP supported me and took us to a shelter. Once things settled, we returned home.”
She converted to Hinduism, his family to BJP
Kashmira, 19, now kavita mondal
The teenager wants to study again. She converted to Hinduism last year after eloping with Pradyut Mondal, owner of a small shop in Baharampur town in Murshidabad district. “I loved Kashmira. I knew bringing her home would be difficult,” he said. “But it was also a service to my society. I approached the local VHP and they assured me that everything would be arranged.”
Kashmira said: “I was a minor when I decided to marry Pradyut. My family would have never accepted it. The VHP told us to wait till I was 18. So I waited.”
Pradyut’s family members are now BJP supporters “out of loyalty and gratitude”.
‘Entitled to all social, legal, religious rights as a Hindu’
Sabina Yasmin, 27, now Nandini Makhal
She is from Mollarchawk in the Sunderbans and married Babloo Makhal of Tulsirhat, South 24-Parganas. She was an MA student, he a high school dropout. She was given a suddhikaran certificate by the Bharat Sevashram Sangha. It states, “Sabina has already renounced her Islam religion by swearing affidavit on 06.06.14 in the court of the judicial magistrate, 1st class, Sealdah, desiring to accept and adopt Hindu religion. She having approached us on 20.06.14 for her conversion to Hinduism on undergoing necessary ceremony, we from Bharat Sevashram Sangha held Vedic ceremonial rites and got her converted to Hinduism as per her own free will and volition on 21.06.14… Henceforth, she will be entitled to enjoy all religious, social and legal rights as a Hindu.”
Babloo helps his father Chandrashekhar in his fishery business. Chandrashekhar said his 34-member family erected a wall to cordon off their rooms as “they did not wish to see the face of my Muslim daughter-in-law”. “I was beaten up. But the brothers of RSS and Hindu Samhati told me my acceptance would be a service to Hindu society since I had brought home a Muslim girl as a Hindu bahu.”
Sabina’s father Abdul Kader, a doctor, said he will never accept the marriage. Now Nandini, Sabina has severed all ties with her family.
Father, father-in-law both joined BJP
Rukaiya Khatun, 20, now Rumpa Chatterjee
She eloped with Kartick Chatterjee, son of Hindu priest Haridas Chatterjee of Panchghara village in South 24-Parganas. The Hindu Samhati took them to a shelter in Kolkata. “There were three couples with us. We stayed there almost six months. Tapan Ghosh of Hindu Samhati told me he would settle everything. Since then I have called him Baba. On September 9, 2014, we got married,” Rumpa said.
Her father-in-law joined the BJP after the wedding. “I performed a yagna. I told my daughter-in-law to cut ties with her family.” Her father Sirajuddin Mollah too left the SUCI and joined the BJP for “safety”.