By law, a Muslim girl is not allowed to marry outside the religion. Nevertheless, Erum Gaho went ahead and married her sweetheart Ameet Kumar from Nawabshah in a court in Karachi on July 7.
The groom, who converted to Islam before signing the nikkah nama (Muslim marriage certificate) changed his name to Amir. A few hours later, however, he was allegedly kidnapped by his own parents. Gaho was separated from her husband for almost 20 days and met him again on July 26 in Mirpurkhas.
“My in-laws raided our house with the police and took us to a police station in Sakrand, a district in Nawabshah,” she said. “They claimed that I had stolen money and jewelry from his father who is a jeweler by profession.”
The couple spent the night at the station and was presented before a civil court on July 28. “At first Amir told the judge that my family had forced him to convert to Islam but he changed his statement,” she said.
SSP Nisar Ahmed Shaikh claimed that in a meeting after the court hearing Amir had accepted converting to the religion and marrying Gaho. He added that the wife had certificates to back up the conversion which had been conducted by Magistrate Hafiz Mufti Moeen Ahmed and the marriage, which had been solemnized by Ghulam Mustafa Abbasi.
Soon after, the couple was moved to the A-section police station in Nawabshah in protective custody and Amir tried to kill himself with shards of broken glass. “The police charged him with attempted suicide and he was bailed out the following day,” said Gaho’s lawyer Aly Hyder Shah.
Gaho believes that her husband is under immense pressure from his family and the community to break off his marriage. Her father, Muhammad Arib Gaho, although disappointed with his daughter’s decision, wants the two to live together. “If they want to continue with their marriage then I have no objections except that he should live like a Muslim,” he said.
The Express Tribune was unable to contact Amir’s father Gopind Ram or his family.
Other members of the Hindu community were not that happy with the marriage either. “Erum and her family trapped Ameet,” said a prominent lawyer from the Hindu community. “Why do they expect a Hindu girl or boy to convert to Islam in order to marry a Muslim?” The lawyer added that Amir would be in grave trouble if he turned his back on Islam now. “If he refuses to accept the religion after converting, then according to the law the offence will be punishable by death,” he said. Another member from the community claimed that after Shahbaz Bhatti’s death they avoided commenting on such issues. “Reforming discriminatory laws is like a dream gone sour,” he said.
A petition was filed by Gaho’s lawyer in the Hyderabad circuit bench of the Sindh High Court which issued notices on Wednesday for a hearing on August 11. SSP Nawabshah, SP Sakranad and Sakrand police station house officers have been ordered to appear before the court along with Amir on August 11.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2011.