Even as Ranchi police reiterated on Monday that it is yet to come across any evidence of Ranjeet Singh Kohli’s alleged conversion to Islam, his wife Tara Shahdeo said she had learnt of his “Islamic name” from an iftar invite sent by a state minister. Monday also saw clashes between police and supporters of Hindu outfits, which had called for a Ranchi bandh to protest against the alleged conversion bid, at several places in the city.
Tara (23), who won a gold medal in the 10m air rifle event at 2009 Eastern Zone championships, has alleged that her husband Ranjeet assaulted her in an attempt to coerce her into converting to Islam.
On Monday, Tara said she came to know Ranjeet was called Rakibul Hasan Khan on receiving an iftar invite from the office of Hazi Hussain Ansari, Jharkhand’s minister for Building Construction, Minority Welfare and Co-operative Societies. “When I saw the name on the envelope, I told the man carrying it that he was mistaken. Then, my mother-in-law shouted from inside the house that it was my husband’s name,” she said.
Tara claimed that two days after her wedding on July 7, she was ‘tricked’ into performing a nikaah. “Some 20 people arrived at their house and sat behind a curtain. Her husband told her that he needed her to say “Qubul Hai” thrice,” said Dwednath Shahdeo, Tara’s elder brother.
Notably, the account of Tara and her family does not fulfil requirements of a wedding in the Islamic tradition: the absence of the girl’s guardians, for instance. “After I said Qubul Hai thrice, Kohli told me he respected Allah as well as the Bible. He told me he would give me some time to start following Islamic traditions,” Tara said, adding that her husband and his mother started addressing her as “Sarah” from that day.
Ranchi SP Anup Birthare said six vehicles-all in the name of Ranjeet-were seized on Sunday. They have also sealed three properties rented in his name, he added. Ranjeet was Managing Director of Kaushal Biotech India Pvt. Ltd., of which his mother Kaushal Rani is the Director. “Except for the girl’s complaint, there is nothing before us yet that shows Ranjeet had converted to Islam,” said Birthare.
Dwednath said his sister met Ranjeet in May at a summer camp organised for shooters by the state government. “He was interested in (learning) how to use the rifle,” he said. He said the person who introduced them to each other- also a senior administrative official- approached their family and proposed marriage.
Tara says she was allowed to leave the house only during Rakhi. “When my family called, he would ask me to switch to speaker mode.” She said she was beaten repeatedly by both mother and son. “Many important people used to visit him at night. He used to say that I had time only till November, after which he would become very powerful,” she said. Notably, Assembly polls are due in November.