MP minister faces slogans in Chhatarpur over ‘love jihad’

Minister Om Prakash Saklecha faced slogans of ‘murdabad’ by workers of the VHP, Bajrang Dal and other groups in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhatarpur district on Friday afternoon after they were made to wait over an hour outside the circuit house, where they had assembled to demand police action in an alleged case of ‘love jihad’.

Some volunteers had gone to meet SP Sachin Sharma to submit a memorandum demanding police action in the matter of one Neelam Ahirwar — a suspected victim of ‘love jihad’ — being allegedly murdered by her husband Tabbu Khan. The police, however, say the man is a Hindu.

The protesters reached the circuit house after learning that the SP was there. Saklecha, who was recently announced as minister-in-charge of Chhtarpur, was visiting the district at the time.

Neelam’s father Kishori Lal Ahirwar told The Indian Express that Neelam eloped with a man identified as Tabbu, also known as Talib Khan, in 2015. She reportedly called Ahirwar on July 1 and said that Tabbu and his family were trying to kill her and had forcibly converted her. “I went to meet Talib Khan’s family but they did not allow me to see my daughter. The next day they all went missing,” said Ahirwar.

Ahirwar alleged that Talib’s neighbours said the family left with a woman covered in a sheet. “I think they have killed my daughter but the police are not doing anything about it,” alleged Ahirwar.

According to the police, the man identified as Talib Khan by Ahirwar was actually Tabbu Rajput, grandson of Binde Rajpur, a Hindu family. Neelam ran away in 2015 as she was allegedly being pressured by her family to marry. She was sent to Usha Kiran Mahila Ashram by the Child Welfare Committee, and subsequently married Tabbu.

The police said that on July 7 they learned that Neelam was taken to Jhansi for treatment on account of deteriorating health. “A police party had been sent to Jhansi for further information,” said SP Sharma.

Ahirwar along with other groups assembled outside the circuit house on Friday and demanded to meet Saklecha. Satendra Singh, prant seh-sanjoy of Chhatarpur, said, “The minister was having lunch and our workers were standing in the sun while police had failed to act. The police are now peddling a different story. We will protest tomorrow with evidence that Neelam was married as per Muslim law.”

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