Tension in Agra over death of woman in inter-faith marriage

Police say situation under control after members of two communities clash

Agra turned tense late on November 12 as two communities clashed over the mysterious death of a 22-year-old woman in an inter-faith marriage.

Local sources said stones were hurled, gunshots fired and slogans raised against a community by leaders of the BJP’s allied organisations.

Senior police officials reached the spot in Shahganj locality of the city and heavy force was deployed to bring the situation under control.

A year ago, the victim named Varsha married Fahim (25) who runs an automobile garage. On November 12, Faheem’s family said Varsha ended her life by hanging. It led to tension in the communally sensitive area.

The mother of the victim told reporters that she lived far from her daughter’s in-laws’ house and didn’t know what led to her death. “If they [Fahim’s family] could not look after her, they could have sent her back to us,” she said.

The victim’s brother said his sister could not have ended her life and there was foul play.

Eyewitnesses said the secretary of BJP Yuva Morcha Gaurav Rajawat, along with district president Shailu Pandit, reached the spot and raised provocative slogans against a community. It was alleged that the sloganeering continued even in the presence of the police.

Some of the shops of the minority community were also allegedly targeted in the area. Later, BJP MLAs and workers gheraoed the Shahganj police station, demanding strict action against the accused.

Ali Haider, a shopkeeper, told reporters that he had a utensils shop in the area. “I saw BJP Yuva Morcha leaders shouting slogans against Muslims and threatening shopkeepers to shut shops. I have been told that three shops run by Muslims were vandalised,” he said.

Mohd Kaif, who runs a garment shop, said, “Around 50-60 persons entered my shop, broke the glass door, and looted garments and cash.”

IG Nachiketa Jha and SSP Sudhir Singh reached the spot and personnel from several police stations and a company of PAC were called in to diffuse the situation.

An FIR was registered against Fahim, his parents, brother, and sister under sections 498A (Husband or relative of the spouse of a woman subjecting wife to cruelty), 295 (insulting religious feelings), 304B (dowry death), and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961.

Sudhir Kumar Singh, SSP, Agra, said a case had been registered against those named by the family of the victim and the situation was under control. “The death has happened under mysterious circumstances. We are waiting for the post-mortem report to understand the cause of the death.”

On the attempt being made to vitiate the atmosphere by a member of a political party, Mr Singh said, “I have told everybody to give us in writing, we will investigate and take strict action against those found guilty,” he said.

(Suicide prevention helpline: Sanjivini Society for Mental Health, Telephone: 011-40769002, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7.30 p.m.)

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