Barmer Love Jihad victim returns home, accuses Kashmiri youth of forceful conversion, marriage and holding her hostage

A girl from Barmer, Rajasthan who had disappeared in March while travelling from her home to Gujarat, has returned to Barmer on Friday after 8 months and narrated a harrowing tale of Love Jihad. The girl has accused a Kashmiri youth Gulzar Khan of luring her away from home, before forcefully converting her to Islam and marrying her while holding her hostage in Kupwara, J&K. The girl has asked for police protection for herself and her family.

The victim, Ritu Khandelwal, had gone missing on March 16, 2018 and on March 21, 2018, a missing person’s report was lodged by her family. Her father had also filed a case in Rajasthan High Court which is pending. She told police that by threatening & blackmailing her, the accused Gulzar Khan took her to Delhi via Ahmedabad and then to Kashmir. There she was made to sign certain documents.

Her religion was changed forcefully, after which she was named Zainab. She was married off to the accused. By giving death threats, he also made videos of her where she approved of the marriage and uploaded them on YouTube. She was also forced to give a false statement in Jammu and Kashmir High Court that she had married of her own free will. He held her hostage at Kupwara in Kashmir and also told her that he will sell her in Dubai.

The victim said that around one and half years ago, the accused had started blackmailing her using some obscene photos.

Interestingly, the Barmer police had gone to Kupwara thrice to search for the girl but every time returned empty handed from there. Gulzar Khan’s brother is said to be in Jammu and Kashmir police.

This is what Police CO Barmer Amar Singh Ratnu had said back in March, “The girl had another number and we traced that to Delhi and Srinagar. Our team had gone but the J&K High Court order restrains us. We contacted the Kupwara SP for help to meet the girl and take statements, but they were not too keen to extend support. The team cannot move in unfamiliar unsafe terrain without that.”

Ritu fears danger to her and her parents, and has asked for police protection and strict action against the accused Gulzar Khan and his accomplices.


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