Punjab couple, unborn baby threatened over caste rivalry
“For the last eight months, me and my wife have been hiding like criminals,” Abdul Majeed tells Dawn.com from an undisclosed location.
Majeed, and his pregnant wife Sobia Shafiq have been on the run. Their crime? Marrying for love.
Majeed is an Ansari, a perceived ‘lower’ caste who are labourers by occupation, while his wife Sobia is from the powerful Jatt clan. They both hail from the “110/7-R” village of Chichawatni. When Majeed’s family sought the Jatt girl’s hand in marriage for their son, they were turned down by the furious Shafiq family. The couple then went ahead and got married in the court last December.
In order to avoid confrontation and further complications, the couple decided to move out and settle down in Okara, despite the fact that Majeed holds a share in his family’s nine-marla plot in the village.
Elders of the Ansari clan told Dawn.com that the local politicians and policemen are supporting the Shafiq family on the basis of their upper caste.
The Jatt family’s anger, however, didn’t end there. The couple have been harassed, often threatened, to be killed by the girl’s family. They want their girl back at any cost and have ordered Majeed to divorce his wife.
In order to show their might, the Jatts have attempted to use their influence with the local police, the panchayat (tribal court) and local religious and political figures. As a result, the local police have refrained from filing a case against the Jatt family, who have also gone to the extent of attacking Majeed’s sister’s house. Safia, Majeed’s sister, has been forced out of her house in the same village, along with her husband and three children. The attackers took away all belongings and forced the family out over the marriage. The family were also threatened to be killed if they failed to convince Majeed to divorce Sobia.
Meanwhile, the couple filed a petition in the Okara district and sessions court against their village police and Sobia’s family. The petition received a favourable response and the local judge directed the police to let the couple live a free life. However, this did not stop Sobia’s family from seeking the help of local politicians, who have duly supported their Jatt tribesmen.
Majeed, insisting that he hasn’t done anything wrong under “the law of the land,” demands the right to a respectful life. “My wife is carrying baby but we live in the constant fear of being killed”.