“Uske liye pehli nazar mein pyaar ho gaya (For him, it was love at first sight),” says 2015 UPSC topper Tina Dabi. They met in the morning at a felicitation ceremony in North Block’s DoPT office and, by evening, he was knocking at her door. Athar Aamir-ul-Shafi Khan, who ranked second in UPSC, floored Dabi with his wit and charm. “I thank Aamir every day for his perseverance. He is a wonderful person,” Dabi tells TOI.
The story of Khan, a Kashmiri from a small village, and Dabi, a Delhi girl born in a Dalit family, highlights how the country’s complex social structure is witnessing a sea of change. Dabi says they would be tying the knot very soon. The couple has been quite open about their relationship, with Dabi sharing pictures of their time together in Netherlands and when with friends.
The pictures, which Dabi made public on Facebook, have invited criticism from certain quarters with most questioning her choice of partner. “We are in love and very happy . But I must admit that I get very disturbed when I read stuff about us. We have stopped googling our names and reading news about ourselves. I think it is a small price to pay for being in the public eye,” she says.
Dabi says their parents have accepted their relationship and were happy about her choice. “As any freethinking independent woman I am entitled to certain choices. I am very happy with my choice and so is Aamir. Our parents are happy too. But there will always be those elements, that small minority who will always pass negative comments about dating someone from another religion. It is just that 5%. The majority are very happy . You would have seen in my Facebook timeline that most of the comments are encouraging. In fact, I am overwhelmed by the support and congratulatory messages. I thought ‘yeh to achcha hai” (this is good.),'” Dabi says.
Dabi is currently undergoing IAS training at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy for Administration in Mussoorie. Read our special story on Dabi, here.