‘I wish people learn the difference between forced marriage and choice’, says woman who changed faithhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/i-wish-people-learn-the-difference-between-forced-marriage-and-choice-says-woman-who-changed-faith-5060198/

‘I wish people learn the difference between forced marriage and choice’, says woman who changed faith

Reshma converted to Islam and married Iqbal in 2016. In December 2017, she was allegedly abducted in Navi Mumbai by her relatives. After Iqbal filed a habeas corpus at the Bombay High Court, she reappeared and told the court she would like to go with her husband. She returned to Iqbal’s home on Friday.

Reshma and Iqbal at their residence on Friday. (Express Photo by Janak Rathod)

Iqbal Chaudhary doesn’t know where his phone is. He had spent more than a month glued to it while running around police stations and courts looking for his wife, Reshma, after she was allegedly abducted in front of a mall in Vashi. But now she is back and he can finally relax.

Reshma converted to Islam and married Iqbal in 2016. In December 2017, she was allegedly abducted in Navi Mumbai by her relatives. After Iqbal filed a habeas corpus at the Bombay High Court, she reappeared and told the court she would like to go with her husband. She returned to Iqbal’s home on Friday.

“Of course, everything is not the way we would have liked, but I am glad the situation is on the mend,” said Iqbal. Reshma, clad in a bright yellow salwar-kameez, claims she is happy after returning.

“My parents were worried, they thought I was being held against my will. They were worried I was being tortured, but I assured them I was extremely happy and comfortable, so they have started to come around,” she said. While her extended stay at her parents’ house was on account of her mother’s ill health, her return was of her own will, she insisted. “My mother had fallen ill worrying about me. I am glad she now knows my husband and in-laws take good care of me,” she said.

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The 23-year-old expecting mother doesn’t think her parents’ worry is ill placed. “There are so many girls in Kerala who are actually stuck in bad inter-faith marriages. But mine is different,” she said.

The couple met on Facebook through common friends in 2011. “When we became friends, I had not thought something like this would happen, but we eventually fell in love and knew that there would be no one else,” she said. While Iqbal’s family knew about his relationship with Reshma before they got married, her family had no inkling, she said.

Reshma said she had been considering marriage for some time before taking the eventual step. “I had read about Islam and knew I would have to convert,” she said. She smiled when asked how it felt to convert. “I believe in a superpower above us, and both Hinduism and Islam talk about the same, just with different names. I believe all religions are the same deep down, depends on what name we give it.”

The expecting parents are extremely excited about their child. “I just want to have a healthy child, the gender doesn’t matter. We have decided the child will not be bound by religious barriers. The hardship we faced while picking our significant other, the child would not face,” said Iqbal.

“In the end, what matters is my well being. When I am happy with a caring husband and his supportive family, our religions hardly matter. I wish people learn the difference between a forced marriage and a choice, like the one I have made,” Reshma said.

The couple are going to withdraw the case in the high court and all other complaints, Iqbal said, after talking to Reshma’s parents. “My relatives are facing slight difficulty in understanding my point of view. My parents are on my side and they just wish me happiness now,” Reshma said. Meanwhile, Iqbal has applied for a marriage registration at BMC, since Reshma wanted one. “I intend to make her as comfortable and happy as possible. This is what we had envisioned and it is finally happening,” he said.