Even my lawyer seemed against our marriage
Najeem,a 26-year-old Muslim,and Hema Kumari,a 24-year-old Hindu,fell in love at the wrong time. When the bogey of love jihad was being raised by Hindu and Christian organisations,they decided to marry.
Four years ago,Hema,a commerce graduate,fell in love with Najeem,a direct marketing executive,during one of his door-to-door sales. After a short courtship,they registered their marriage at a sub-registrars office in Ernakulam district. Our plan was to announce our marriage to our families after getting the certificate, says Najeem.
But before they could do that,Hemas family learnt about their marriage. It was 2009,and the love jihad theory was taking root in Kerala. Hemas cousins,who were part of the Sangh Parivar,locked her in her house.
I was confined to my home for one-and-a-half months,with security guards hired to ensure I dont escape. During that period,my cousins spread stories that I was a victim of Muslim youths love jihad agenda and that my relationship would not last, says Hema.
Hemas family enticed Najeem with financial offers so that he would back off from the relationship. They offered me Rs 1.25 lakh and a job in the Gulf. Her cousins were even ready to take me to the Gulf, he says.
Meanwhile. Najeem moved a habeas corpus in the Kerala High Court. Rumours were abound that Muslim love jihadis would lure non-Muslim girls with money and two-wheelers. But here,I had to sell my two-wheeler in order to fund my legal fight, says Najeem.
The court,he says,considered his petition four times before allowing Hema to live with him. The court seemed to be against our relationship. While the judge allowed several couples to live together in that period,he repeatedly asked us to reconsider our relationship. Even my lawyer did not back me fully. At one stage,he mooted why I should stick on, says Najeem.
The court allowed them to live together only after Najeem produced his parents in court. Initially,his family resented the marriage,but later,they accepted it,he says.
After the court allowed the couple to live together,Hema was sent for religious conversion at an institute in Kozhikode. It is better for the wards that their parents follow the same religion, says Najeem. Hema,on her part,was happy with converting,and changing her name to Hiba. I was serious about Najeem, she says.
Hemas family warmed up to the couple when they had a child two years ago. Those who once called me an Islamic extremist in court are now my friends, says Najeem,who currently drives an autorickshaw. Together with Hema,who works at a dental clinic,he supports his widowed mother-in-law financially.