They say love is blind and often you end up having scant control of your heart and hence, your actions. In the world that we live in today marked by new modes of communal strife, falling in love without knowing much about your suitor can land you in serious trouble. That is what Neetu Yadav of Baraut in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district found out, as have many before her.
Neetu got married in 2012 to a man from the same caste. The couple had a four-year-old son. However, the marriage soon hit rough waters. The couple separated in 2017, but Neetu was not allowed the custody of her child as she was unemployed. She returned to her parents’ place after her divorce. She had received Rs 2 lakh as part of the mutual separation, but her parents felt it was too little an amount and started pressurising her to extract more compensation from her divorced husband. Neetu refused. Tired of the demands, she left her parents’ house and began living in a rented accommodation in a nearby village.
Following the breakdown of her marriage, Neetu strove to stand on her feet and be financially self-sufficient. She enrolled herself in a nursing course in Noida. Soon, she started working part-time in a private nursing home in Loni. When her year-long course completed, she got full-time employment as a resident nurse at one Rashidiya hospital hospital in Baraut.
There, she came across a man, who introduced himself as Aksh. They became ‘friends’ and grew closer. ‘Aksh’ was a Unani medicine practitioner at the hospital. They soon graduated from being mere friends. Aksh told Neetu about his divorce and his child. He also enquired about Neetu’s relationship status.
Within a few months of seeing each other, Aksh proposed marriage to Neetu. He said that he longed for a family and a mother for his child. Neetu could not make up her mind immediately, but she not only had a soft corner for Aksh, but she had also fallen in love with him.
Neetu decided to take a rented accommodation outside of the hospital, where Aksh began to visit her in the afternoons. Soon, she became pregnant. Neetu had already gone through the trauma of a divorce and being separated from a child whom she had given birth to. She now started to believe that life had taken a turn for the better. After all, she had found true love and was going to be a mother again.
This time, she was certain that her husband and child would be staying with her. It would be the end of her woes, she hoped. She asked Aksh for a formal marriage; he assured her it’s a mere formality and he would get it done as soon as possible.
However, that was not to be. Fate pulled the rug from under her feet so violently that she was left battered, bruised and shell-shocked. Aksh revealed his true identity in June 2020 when Neetu was one-month pregnant. The Aksh that Neetu had loved and trusted as her saviour and the hero of her life was in reality, Akram Qureshi and a married man. It turned out that Akram was never divorced but had a wife, who too was pregnant.
Neetu met Akram’s wife Rukhsar to confirm this. The meeting turned out to be bitter. As per Neetu, Rukhsar attacked her verbally, calling her a vile prostitute who had seduced her unsuspecting husband. Rukhsar tried to occupy a moral high ground and told her that she was carrying Akram’s legitimate child.
An unrepentant Akram asked Neetu to be his second wife, saying it’s “allowed in his religion”. This was shocking beyond words for a Hindu woman, who had grown up considering monogamy to be morally and legally binding. Neetu felt cheated again. Her love was consigned to the dustbin with such disdain that she wondered if life would ever do justice to her. What sins was she paying for, that too repeatedly? Neetu wondered.
Neetu decided to part ways with Akram. There was no way that she could stay with a charlatan who had cooked up a story to trap a gullible woman. Who knew what more ordeals lay ahead. She realised she would be forced to change her religion to be a second wife. She realised she had fallen prey to “love jihad”, a popular term for the diabolical methods by which Muslim men have been known to entice and ensnare women from other religions in the name of romance and then forcefully convert them to add to the Muslim numbers. Demographic dividend in this polarised world is like gold dust.
Neetu, however, was not someone to go down without a fight, and she found a pillar of support in the form of Sewa Nyaya utthan co-founder Swati Goel Sharma. Neetu registered an FIR against Akram and his family, and Sharma brought the story out in the open through her fearless reporting for Swarajya magazine. Not only that, after knowing Neetu’s plight, Sharma and her foundation decided to do everything in their power to make Neetu’s life better.
Since Neetu was well-versed in nursing, Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation spent Rs 1.2 lakh and gifted her a nursing home comprising two beds. This was designed to put Neetu firmly on the path of financial self-reliance and stability.
Neetu is a strong woman, whose fight even while being pregnant, is an inspiration to one and all, and should serve to motivate all those girls who have been silently suffering as victims of cheating or ”love jihad” and feeling too scared to speak up. Today, Akram’s father keeps calling Neetu, begging her to take her case back, mentioning Akram’s pregnant wife and young child, trying to earn Neetu’s sympathy. Neetu, however, is relentless and has vowed not to rest until the cheaters are brought to book.
At the time of filing the police case, Neetu was six months’ pregnant. In January 2021, she delivered her baby, prematurely. Doctors told her the child won’t survive unless immediately taken to a good hospital in Delhi. Neetu rushed to Delhi with helped of a colleague. She could not find a bed in any government hospital. She was running out of time.
Then, Neetu approached us again.
With full financial support from our foundation, Neetu got her child admitted in a private hospital in Dilshad Garden. The child remained on ventilator for a week. Thankfully, she survived. Neetu again thanked us profusely for the timely help. She even offered to volunteer for the foundation as a gesture of thanks.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation is extremely proud of Neetu and the exceptional courage shown by her at a time when any other pregnant woman would have wanted to keep hassles at arm’s length. Neetu, however, had nothing to lose. She knew nothing about love jihad till she almost fell a victim to it, and now she has decided to fight it tooth and nail. Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation is grateful to all its sahyogis, without whom, it could not have helped Neetu to the extent that it has.