Kashmiri bride accuses her Sikh family of harassment after first marriage

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A video has surfaced of Srinagar woman Zoya, formerly known as Manmeet Kour, in which she is admitting to converting to Islam and marrying a Muslim man out of her own free will and has accused her family of “torturing” her and the Srinagar police of “harassing” her.

“I have accepted Islam a year ago out of the free will and have married Shahid Nazir Bhat. Now my parents are torturing me and Rainawari SHO is harassing me,” Zoya is heard saying in the video. “If something happens to me or my husband is harmed, I will take my life. My parents and Rainawari SHO will be responsible for that. I need police protection.”

The video has surfaced more than a week after she was seized from the district court in Srinagar by a Sikh mob that alleged that her marriage to Bhat, also a resident of Srinagar, was a case of “love jihad” and forced marriage. Santpal Singh, head of Budgam District Gurudwara Committee, also denigrated Zoya claiming that she was “mentally unstable.”

In the video, which appears to have been recorded between her first marriage and when she was taken to court, Zoya has also said that a second video will be released “if something happens” and again blamed her parents, SHO Rainawari Rakesh Pandita, and a third man that she identified as Gurdeep Singh. It is unclear what the third person’s role is in the case.

Pandita did not respond to repeated calls and text messages by this reporter requesting comments and clarity on the allegations made by Zoya.

On 26 June, Zoya was taken away by the mob in Srinagar. Three days later pictures of her marriage to a Sikh man from Pulwama were released on social media by New Delhi-based Sikh leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who flew into Srinagar to steer protests against the Muslim community.

In an address at the Gurduwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi on 29 June, Sirsa had thanked the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha “for immediately issuing directions [with respect to] the issue of forced Nikah of Sikh daughters in Srinagar.”

Zoya’s current whereabouts are not known since she was married for the second time within a month. The legality of the second marriage remains in question as Zoya is officially wedded to Bhat.

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