Police in Odisha’s Jajpur district on Friday arrested a 24-year-old Muslim man on charges of forcibly marrying a 21-year-old woman and raping her repeatedly, officials said.
Officials said the woman was rescued from Cuttack on Thursday evening, 12 days after she was allegedly abducted by the man while going to college. Police initiated action against the accused following a complaint by the woman’s father.
According to Dharmasala police station inspector-in-charge Saroj Sahoo, the father complained that the accused forcibly married the woman after abducting her on December 5 and then raped her several times over 10 days.
“The medical examination has proved that the girl was raped by the accused several times. The victim’s statement was recorded before a judicial magistrate today. The accused youth has been forwarded to judicial custody after his bail was rejected,” said Sahoo. A case under sections 366 and 376(2)(n) of Indian Penal Code has been lodged against the accused.
Police on Wednesday arrested the father of the accused after he allegedly threatened the parents of the woman.
On December 5, the woman had gone to her college to collect her migration certificate when she was allegedly abducted by the accused. Later in the evening, her mobile phone was found to be switched off.
Her father searched for her at various places and later lodged a first information report, or FIR, alleging that the accused abducted his daughter.
“He was earlier forcing my daughter to marry him and change her religion. As my daughter refused to do so, he had threatened to abduct her,” the woman’s father said in his FIR.
The incident comes in the backdrop of a raging debate over “love jihad”, a term used by right-wing activists to describe marital relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women, though the courts and the Union government do not officially recognise the term.
While Hindu right-wing activists claim gullible Hindu women are being coerced into conversion on the false pretext of marriage, many experts reject these allegations and say that adult men and women are free to convert under the constitutional right to freedom of religion.
Several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states are considering laws against such conversions, with Uttar Pradesh being first off the blocks to promulgate an ordinance to that effect.
Arabinda Das, in-charge of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Jajpur and Kendrapara unit, said the organisation has registered an FIR in this connection. “There have been many such cases in Jajpur and Kendrapara districts as the number of minorities here are quite large. Many unsuspecting girls are falling prey to such love jihad conspiracies,” he alleged