“I miss Ankit so much. I will never get over him. I blame myself for everything that happened to him and my family. But sometimes, I wonder how a naive and submissive girl like me, who was always dependent on others, is now taking care of herself and her sister.”
It’s been more than a year since she lost the love of her life, Ankit Saxena, who was allegedly murdered by her family because they were against their cross-faith relationship . Today, Shehzadi has finally decided to speak out — about that evening of loss, a forced and broken engagement, meeting her jailed parents, and transformation into a woman who has taken charge of her life.
Ankit, 23, was killed on February 1, 2018 , and the police arrested Shehzadi’s immediate family members for the crime. Since then, life has been a roller-coaster ride for the 19-year-old.
She shifted house thrice, took up a call centre job in Noida and moved into a paying guest accommodation where she stayed for six months. Her 13-year-old sister stayed with her aunt during this period. “Then, my sister told me that I should either keep her with me or kill her. So, I shifted to where my maternal aunt lives and rented a house nearby, where the two of us stay,” she told The Hindu.
Six months ago, Shehzadi met her jailed parents for the first time. “My mother said she couldn’t understand me. My father hasn’t spoken about the incident… I met my mother a day before Id and gave her a salwar-suit,” she says.
And, yet, the memories of that fateful February evening continue to haunt her. “My family was going to send me away, to our village in Saharanpur on February 2. I asked my younger sister to go to a booth and call Ankit. He told her usko bolo kaise bhi karke ghar se nikal jaye (tell her to leave the house somehow). I was in my nightclothes when my sister told me this. I locked the house and left,” she says.
Recollects the day
With just ₹30 in hand, she took a rickshaw to the Tagore Garden metro station and borrowed a tea-seller’s phone to call Ankit. Her next two calls went unanswered. After three more futile attempts, Ankit’s mother answered: “Usko maar diya (They killed him).”
However, Ankit’s friends who came to pick her up from the metro station and women officers she was with calmed her down telling her that he is only injured and they’ll make her meet him soon.
For the next two days, Shehzadi was at a shelter home, in a daze. “A police officer asked me to forget everything that had happened. I told him I want to meet Ankit. Three female officers who were present gestured to him that they hadn’t told me yet. That’s when he said Ankit was no more,” she says.
Shehzadi and Ankit had known each other since she was in Class 4, and they fell in love when she was in Class 11. Smiling shyly, the 19-year-old recalls that Ankit also proposed to her. She says that while she wanted to agree with all her heart, they had a conversation about that the problems their relationship might cause.
“I told him that my parents would never agree to this relationship because he was a Hindu. He joked that we will not get serious. But he made me believe that we shouldn’t believe in such orthodox notions… I thought the situation could be managed,” she says.
The couple went out together only twice during their three-year-long relationship — to Bangla Sahib gurdwara and a birthday party. Fighting back tears, Shehzadi says that “used to stay on call 24x7... even sleep while on call”.
Objection from parents
The road was not smooth though. Once her mother found about her relationship with Ankit, her parents beat her up. Shehzadi then promised she wouldn’t keep in touch with him. That promise lasted just three months.
The second time, her mother saw her standing in the gallery while Ankit was downstairs. This time, the mother drank phenyl in an attempt to end her life.
“I told Ankit I am not so brave to fight such circumstances. He said he would handle everything. We got back together,” she says. Ankit then gave her a phone, she says, which she hid in her school bag. But then, her brother saw the two together on Ankit’s bike while returning from their first date to Bangla Sahib. This time, her mother got her engaged in November 2016 to a man who was 10 years older.
Fortunately for her, she says, the engagement broke after two-three months because she convinced her parents that she wanted to study further. By this time, she had taken her Class 12 exams. Soon, Shehzadi enrolled in a nursing institute and was also allowed to help in managing her mother’s beauty parlour.
“One day, when I was in the parlour, a female friend of Ankit’s told me that he wanted to talk to me and that he’s had enough. I called him and he said he wanted to meet. We met in a park a few days after that call,” she says. Ankit said he wanted to marry her and that he would speak to her parents about it. “I was happy but told him that my parents wouldn’t agree,” she says.
“In late January, Ankit was dropping me home from my institute when my brother saw us. A few days later, he told my mother. This time, I was not scolded or thrashed. I was told that I would be taken to Saharanpur to get married,” she says.
Two days later, in the evening of February 1, Shehzadi walked out of her house. On the way, she called Ankit borrowing the rickshaw-puller’s phone.
“I’ll see you in 10-15 minutes,” he told her. It was to be their last conversation.