“THROUGH THIS video, I want to say that in future if something happens to me or Abhi or any of his family members, then my father, Vicky Bhartaul, and Rajeev Rana would be responsible for it, especially Rajeev Rana who has arrived with his entire team and is chasing me. I will die, but I will wipe out his entire family.”
These chilling lines are from one of two videos that went viral Wednesday on social media, which features Sakshi Mishra, the 23-year-old daughter of UP BJP MLA Rajesh Mishra alias Pappu Bhartaul.
In the videos, Sakshi, a Brahmin, and her husband, Ajitesh (29), a Dalit, allege that they are facing death threats from her father, brother and their associates who are opposed to their inter-caste marriage.
On Thursday, Sakshi, a graduate who is preparing to apply for a journalism course, and Ajitesh, who runs a hardware shop, filed a petition in Allahabad High Court seeking protection. In the plea, they said they fear for their lives following threats from her father, the MLA from Birhari Chainpur, her brother and their aides.
With the videos sparking outrage, the MLA denied Thursday that he or his men have threatened his daughter or her husband. Mishra said his daughter “is an adult and has the right to make her decisions”.
“I am busy with my work. The BJP membership drive is ongoing. We are taking part in that and in organising weddings of poor girls. Wherever she (Sakshi) is, she should be happy. She is an adult and has the right to make her decisions,” he said.
However, excerpts from the videos posted by Sakshi and Ajitesh present a different picture.
In one of them, which shows her inside a car beside Ajitesh, Sakshi addresses her father and brother, and says: “Please agree, live peacefully and let me live (peacefully) because I have really gotten married… And Papa, the dogs that you have sent to chase me, like Rajeev Rana, tell him that if the water goes above my head, his entire family will be in jail… Our life is under threat. I want to tell you one thing, Vicky and Papa — stop harassing Abhi (Ajitesh) and his relatives because they have not made any mistake. Abhi and I are behind whatever has happened. Now, live peacefully and keep doing your politics. I want to stay happy and free.”
According to a police officer in Bareilly, Mishra is a “historysheeter”, with cases registered against him in more than one police station.
Sakshi and Ajitesh, who got married on July 4, filed their petition in the High Court through advocate Vikas Rana. Speaking to The Indian Express, Rana said, “The petition came up for hearing on Thursday, but was listed for Monday as the couple was not present in court. In the petition, we have sought police protection for the couple and Ajitesh’s family.”
Bareilly SSP, Muniraj G, said police came to know of the alleged threat through the videos. “I request them to send a written complaint to us. We will definitely give 100 per cent security if their lives are under threat. But they have not appeared before us. We have put up a picket at the man’s home and we are giving them protection,” the SSP said.
However, Ajitesh’s father, Harish Kumar, denied having received any security. “We have locked the house and all the family members have dispersed because of the threat posed by the MLA and his men,” he said.
“The entire family is on the run because of the threat. On Tuesday, I received a message with a certificate issued by a temple for the marriage of my son with Sakshi. On that day itself, I wrote to National Commission for Scheduled Castes to provide help to the couple. I also wrote to the Bareilly SSP with a copy of the certificate,” Kumar said.
In one of the videos, Ajitesh refers to a specific threat. “They arrived at the hotel where we had been staying in the morning. We got an opportunity to get away from there. Their plan is to kill us to save their respect, or whatever you may call it, because I belong to a Dalit family. That is the reason. They want to kill us…,” he says.
But it’s Sakshi who speaks through most of the two videos: “Please, Papa, change your mindset. Abhi and Abhi’s family are also humans, not animals. They are good people. I will live happily with them. Stay happy and let others live happily. Do your politics quietly. Thank you.”