- NL Sena
In society’s and the media’s blindspot
Mathura: A pair of lesbian lovers go “missing” in rural Mathura and nobody’s alarmed or bothered. Their families have nothing to say and are least interested in filing a complaint. The police hide behind the claim that it is a “sensitive issue” and therefore do nothing. And this, when the lesbian couple goes incommunicado the very day they lodge a police complaint against their parents.
Reena Singh (25) and Sonia (22) wanted to get married to each other. Soniya is from Anora village and Reena is from Ranigaon Rajugela village of Mathura district. Both villages fall under the jurisdiction of Raya Police Station and are 2 kilometres apart from each other. Soniya and Reena are both Jatav, the dominant caste in Mathura. But caste is not the barrier in their parents’ eye. It is their same-sex relationship.
Their families opposed the “unnatural union”. The women took their love and resolve to marry to the police, filed a complaint against their parents and then went missing. The lesbian couple is “missing” from February 17, the day they filed a joint complaint against their parents in the Raya police station; the same day they were allegedly caught in a compromising position and allegedly thrashed by the father of one of the women.
The two women claimed they were beaten up for being lesbians, and that their parents want them to end the “unnatural” relationship.
101reporters.com does not have a copy of the complaint.
The police did not lodge an FIR. Investigation officer Anil Kumar says it’s a “family matter” and should be sorted out by the families. Mohit Gupta, the senior superintendent of police (SSP), Mathura, says the police do not have many options.
The police say the women might have been sent to a relative’s’ house by their parents to keep them apart and for “counselling”, and nothing can be done unless a “missing person’s report” is filed by the families. The police also say that “investigation is underway”, and because the issue is “very sensitive”, it’s best not to rush things – or talk about the case.
A sentiment shared by the residents of Ranigaon Rajugela and Anora. No one seems ready to comment on the “Reena-Soniya Prem Katha”, which until February 17 was the talk of the town.
The police say the two women left for their homes with their respective parents soon after their complaint was lodged. Reena with her parents, and Soniya with hers. Some villagers, who did not want their names revealed, say there was “noise and commotion” when Reena and Soniya came to the police station on February 17. The police summoned their parents and there was “more commotion and noise”.
Before they went missing, Reena spoke to 101reporters.com at the police station. “I love Soniya. I want to marry her. We will live together or we will die together,” she said. “My father Laxman Singh beats me. He wants me to dump Soniya”.
The story goes that Soniya teaches stitching to women from her village and from neighbouring villages. Two years ago, Reena joined Sonia’s stitching class. Reena’s classmates say that the two started spending hours with each other, either in Soniya’s room or up on the “terrace”.
“No one took notice initially. How can a girl fall for a girl? But we realised soon that something unnatural was going on,” one of Soniya’s students, on condition of anonymity, told 101reporters.com. “Then Reena proposed marriage to Soniya.”
Word of the “unholy alliance” spread in Ranigaon Rajugela and Anora. Family members of Soniya and Reena were stopped on the streets and given free advice on what to do to end the same-sex relationship. Reena’s father Laxman Singh took some of the advice home. He started “beating” Reena. “She (Soniya) is not a good woman. She will sell my daughter to sex traffickers. Reena has been brainwashed,” Laxman told 101reporters.com.
Soniya’s brother says his sister has shamed the family. “My sister got married in 2007. She never went to her husband’s home. She has filed for divorce”, says Sanjay Singh Jatav. “She should know such a relationship is not acceptable in our society. We really don’t know what to do.”
While no administrative authority in either village is willing to talk, the dominant narrative is to keep the “unsavoury love” under wraps.
Lucknow-based sociologist Dr Parul Srivastava says a larger awareness brought about by the smartphones and internet is encouraging more and more homosexuals to come out into the open to demand their rights. “Even in rural areas. Who knows what’s going on behind closed doors? Radio, television, smartphones and the Internet have created a lot of awareness on such issues. People are coming out of the closet,” she told 101reporters.com.
But gay relationships, besides not finding social sanctity in India, are hampered by Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises homosexual acts. What is worse is that two months have passed since the women have gone missing. There’s no public outrage. No protests. No media outcry. No gay rights activists hitting the streets. It’s as if the two women never existed.
Had it been Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai or Bangalore, it most probably would have been “Breaking News”. But this is Mathura, so the couple will not be missed – either by their families or by the media.