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Rajasthan: Teacher And Her Student Run Away Fearing Marriage, Spark 'Love Jihad' Protests in Bikaner

The family of the minor lodged an FIR at the police station in Bikaner accusing the teacher and her family members of influencing their daughter and orchestrating her disappearance as part of a plot.

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'Love Jihad' protests in Bikaner against teacher who ran away with her student in Rajasthan.
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On June 30, two women, aged 17 and 20, were reported missing from Bikaner in Rajasthan. The 17-year-old is a student of class 12 at a private school in the town, while her 20-year-old partner is a former teacher at the same school.

The family of the minor lodged an FIR at the police station the next day, accusing the teacher and her family members of influencing their daughter and orchestrating her disappearance as part of a plot.

The disappearance of the two women has sparked protests organised by certain Hindutva groups, who called it 'love jihad'. These groups are pointing to the religious difference between the minor student, a Hindu, and her teacher, who comes from a Muslim family, as the basis for their allegations.

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‘We ran away as we are in love’

“We could sense that the girl’s family has been thinking that I have been kidnapped but the fact is that we have left our homes by our own choice because we both are in love and want to stay together. We are lesbians and hence we cannot marry another man as per our family's wishes,” the 17-year-old girl says in a purported video, in an apologetic tone to their parents. She says that they rain away due to the fear of being forcibly married off to someone else.

“The only reason we ran away was to avoid the family pressure as we are aware of our sexuality. I left my home on my own wish and accompanied her (the 20-year-old teacher). She did not force me at all, and neither did she ask me to make this video. The only reason behind making this video is to clear out the misunderstanding and confusion our families are creating,” the minor girl adds in the video.

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The FIR filed by the minor’s family charges the teacher and her family (two brothers) under sections 363 (kidnapping), 366 (kidnapping, abducting, or inducing a woman for forced marriage, etc.), and section 120-B of the IPC, in addition to relevant sections of the Juvenile Justice Act.

‘Our daughter has been brainwashed’

Speaking to Outlook, the 17-year-old girl’s family members say, “When she did not return home on the evening of June 30 from her school, we got worried. We went to her school and found out that not only our daughter but the teacher is also absent from the school. Hence we came to a point that she has been missing.”

When asked about the video the duo have made “by choice” and circulated, the girl’s uncle adds, “Our daughter is a minor and has been brainwashed. Of course we have seen the video but we don’t believe it. At this point in time we want her back as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, the 20-year-old teacher’s father has also registered a missing report at a police station in Bikaner in which he alleged that she had boarded the school bus and got dropped from the bus midway while en route to school.

The 20-year-old teacher’s father tells Outlook, “We are equally worried about both. Our family only filed a missing report. But the minor (student’s) family has lodged an FIR against my sons, and my daughter who herself is missing.” As per the teacher’s family members, she is engaged to a man living in the neighbouring district and their wedding is set to happen in a few months.

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Meanwhile, Bikaner Police have launched an extensive search operation to locate the two women and ensure their safe return. Bikaner SP Tejaswani Gautam stated, "One of the individuals is a 17-year-old minor. We are actively working to track their whereabouts and establish contact with them. We hope to find them soon."

Hindu outfits claim 'love jihad'

The disappearance of the two individuals has sparked protests in Rajasthan. The incident has led to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticising the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in the state. The BJP has expressed support to the protesters who shut the local markets to raise the issue.

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BJP MLA and Rajasthan's leader of the opposition, Rajendra Rathore on Monday visited the Bikaner and extended his support to the protestors. “Our innocent daughters are being brainwashed and kidnapped. The religious conversions are being carried out in the state in garb of love. Our culture is at risk and they are trying to dilute it. The police should find out the missing girl and hand her over to her family safely,” he said.

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