Police in Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar stopped a wedding ceremony on Tuesday, December 8, and took away the couple after they received a phone call claiming that a Muslim man was marrying a Hindu woman after converting her.
The police let them go only the next day after they found that both were Muslims. The couple only got married on Wednesday after the family of the woman, Shabeela Khatoon, 28, said that they had no objection to the marriage.
The man, identified as 39-year-old Haider Ali, alleged that the police thrashed him with a leather belt and tortured him for hours at the Kasya Police Station.
Meanwhile, the Kasya Police Station SHO Sanjay Kumar blamed "miscreants" for spreading rumours of 'love jihad', and said that they had released the couple after they realised that both were of the same religion.
Circle Officer (CO) Piyush Kant Rai said they acted immediately as "the atmosphere is tense and the administration is strict about such cases".
Dismissing all allegations of torture, Kushinagar SP Vinod Kumar Singh said several officers, along with some "respected locals", had arrived at the police station after hearing about the case. "It was not like the couple were brought to the police station in secret. Also, the matter was soon sorted… There was no reason to beat up anyone."
Ali said that Shabeela was sent to another room in the police station, while he was beaten up with a belt.
"One of the policemen asked another to skin me… I tried to talk to them… When Shabeela heard me crying, she panicked. The policemen asked her about her family but she was scared. Only around 9 pm could I convince her to tell the police her brother's number," Ali told The Indian Express.
"Her family told the police she was Muslim, and sent a photo of her Aadhaar card and even made a video call. The police personnel were polite after that, but still did not let us go. They said they would wait for her brother to arrive. I was kept in the verandah in the cold," he added.
The watchman of Ali's village in Kushinagar, Mushtaqeem Ali, accepted that he made the call on a tip-off by some Hindu youths. A local social activist who facilitated the wedding, Arman Khan, said that some Hindu Yuva Vahini members had "interrogated" the couple before the police arrived.
Arman Khan said Ali had reached out to him about a week ago seeking his help to get married to Shabeela.
Around a week before her wedding, Shabeela had run away from her home in Azamgarh and moved into Ali's rented room.
Kasya CO Rai said they had confirmed that her family had filed a missing person's report at Mubarakpur Police Station in Azamgarh after she left home on December 4.
"The two knew each other for the last around one-and-a-half years. On Tuesday, we got a call at the Kasya Police Station that a Muslim man was going to marry a Hindu woman… The information was given by a few locals of the village who said they had heard that a 'love jihad' marriage was going to take place," he said.
Rai confirmed that after the police stopped the wedding and brought the couple to the police station, Shabeela had told them "she is a Muslim and is getting married as per her will".