There have been other stories of forbidden love in Bihar, and in the case of Mukesh Kumar and Noor Jehan Khatun, both teenage Class IX students, it led to dishonour and death in the State’s West Champaran district, from where Mahatma Gandhi launched his Satyagraha movement in 1917.
Sources say they fell in love some four or five months ago, the girl’s family took umbrage about 15 days ago, and late on the night of November 27, the couplewas allegedly killed by them.
Ravikant Sah alias Faresh Sah, 36, and his wife Geeta Devi, 32, were woken up after midnight on Monday by the beeps onMr. Sah’s mobile phone. It was 2.25 am.“Your son’s body is lying in the sugarcane field at Belimai place,” said the caller and abruptly cut the line, recalled Mr. Sah, and he performed the last rites for his son at the backyard of his home in the Banhora village on Friday. He had immediately rushed to his son’s room to check if he was in. Mukesh Kumar was not in his bed.
Moments later, Ravikant Sah, along with his brother Ashok, raced on their motorcycle to the spot, reaching in just five minutes. “From a distance, we saw a mutilated body in the field, surrounded by six-seven people. A girl, gasping for breath, was lying nearby. We could not muster the courage to reach the place and returned to wait for the morning to break,” Mr. Sah told The Hindu, wiping tears.
On Tuesday morning, soon after sunrise, Mr. Sah, along with other family members, reached the spot in the neighbouring village of Balua Malahi Tola once again. “But there was nothing. The bodies were gone,” he said. “We searched the whole day but we did not get any clue. We then informed the Nautan Police Station and lodged a complaint at 9 p.m.”
Police Inspector (PI) Kundan Kumar Singh swung into action and, working on some “initial leads”, he recovered the bodies of both the teenagers from two different places. “The boy’s mutilated body was recovered from a punj (a makeshift tomb-like structure to hoard ripened paddy) at a sareh (an empty place), while the girl’s body with grievous injuries was dumped in a gorge on the banks of Chandravat river and covered with salt and mud,” said the police official. The post-mortem report is yet to arrive, five days after the incident.
“Before dawn on Wednesday, Isent the three accused persons — the girl’s brother and two uncles — to jail,” said Mr. Singh. “Otherwise, it could have flared up into communal violence.” The 4,000-strong minority community population in the Balua Malahi Tola village of Noor Jehan Khatun has 1,800 voters.
Was this a case of honour killing? “During the investigation, it came to light that the boy andgirl, both from different communities, had fallen in love while studying in nearby local schools. The boy’s father said in his complaint that the two had known each other for four or five months,” said Mr. Singh.
Mr. Sah, a trader in fertilizer and seeds in the village, has named four persons as accused in the case: Allauddin Ansari (24), the girl’s elder brother; her two uncles Gulsanovar (55) and Ansari Miyan (58); and elder sister Shabnam Khatun (26). “All three male accused were arrested and sent to jail. Shabnam Khatun is absconding,” said the PI.
“Allauddin Ansari is a toughie who flaunts his proximity to local political leaders. He does odd jobs, but has no criminal record,” he added.
About half-a-kilometre from the police station is Noor Jehan Khatun’s mud-and-thatch-roof house. There was no one inside, but for her sexagenarian aunt Sabbujanah Khatun, feeding a cow and five goats in the foreyard. “Noor Jehan died after consuming poison,” she said, without looking up.