Asif Khan and Sakshi Sahu eloped from Madhya Pradesh’s Dindori district on April 7 to get married. After they tied the knot in a temple, Sakshi Sahu’s family filed a police complaint claiming she had been abducted and forced to marry a Muslim man.
On April 8, Asif Khan’s family home and three shops were demolished on the orders of Dindori district collector Ratnakar Jha.
Asif Khan’s father expressed his helplessness over the situation in an interview with BBC Hindi, “What will become of us? What will happen to our children? Where are we going to live?”
The couple was also frustrated by the harassment from local officials and Sakshi Sahu’s family.
“I am a Muslim who went to a temple to get married, what did I do wrong?” asked Asif Khan, “And if Sakshi and I have done something wrong, why is my family being targeted? I don’t need any evidence to prove my innocence, my biggest strength is my love.”
Sakshi Sahu told BBC Hindi that her family refused to approve an inter-faith marriage. “What is my mistake? Is it that I fell in love with someone and got married to him? I can marry a husband of my choice,” said Sakshi Sahu, “When I told my family about wanting to get married to Asif, my mother objected because he was Muslim, my brother even threatened us.”
The Dindori district collector’s office gave orders for the demolishment on the basis of illegal construction. “This is not an illegal construction, it is legal,” asserted Asif Khan’s father.
Sakshi Sahu’s family claim they had no hand in the demolishment of Asif Khan’s family house and shops. “I only have one daughter,” said her mother, “Please return her to us at any cost. She should not get married into a Muslim home.”
“They destroyed my home before I could settle into it,” continued Sakshi Sahu, “They did it without any investigation or evidence. Getting married to someone you love is not a crime, but people think we have done something wrong. I am proud of the fact that I have not done anything wrong.”
The Madhya Pradesh High Court has ordered police protection for the couple, and directed the police not to take any action on the complaint filed by Sahu’s family against the couple. Asif Khan and Sakshi Sahu are currently in hiding from local officials and Sahu’s family.