Two lesbian women have been granted shelter at the government-run Nari Niketan in Karnal as they apprehend a threat from their families who are opposed to their "marriage".
Poonam, 24, who prefers short hair and men's clothing, and 20-year-old Neha, who is wearing a choora (wedding bangles), were missing since April 14 and turned up in wedding attire at Ambala's BC Bazar police post on Saturday.
As they claimed they tied the knot at a temple in Jammu "recently", the police faced quite a quandary. Not only is the case rare, but gets more complicated as Poonam is a cousin of Neha's mother. This makes Ambala-resident Poonam, who claims to be the 'husband', an aunt of Jalandhar-resident Neha.
Suresh Dalal, in-charge of the police post, said that only a routine daily diary report (DDR) was filed as it was initially treated as a "family dispute". But as the two women apprehended a threat from their families and sought security, the matter was sent to the civil court of the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), who ordered that the couple be sent to the Karnal Nari Niketan, the only state-run women shelter and care centre in Haryana.
"The two women reached Karnal on Sunday and will stay there till further orders from the civil court of the Ambala SDM," Niketan superintendent Rajni Pasricha told HT.
The police have not registered a first information report (FIR) yet as "there seems to be no criminal angle," according to Dalal. Poonam's family told the civil court that they were ready to "accept" Poonam if Neha went back to her parents in Jalandhar. The family said Poonam had "misguided her niece".
But the women, both of whom have studied up to Class 10, insisted they were in love for the past three years and got married with mutual consent. "They even spoke of adopting a child and live like a normal married couple," said a police official on the condition of anonymity.
Family sources said that though the women had gone missing together around a month ago, the 'marriage' had come as a shock.