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Love story a la Bollywood

A young couple are living in fear, because they dared to cross religious barriers, writes Nabanita Sircar.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2005 16:44 IST
Nabanita Sircar
Nabanita Sircar

It sounds like a Bollywood script but it is a true life story. A young couple are living in fear at a secret location, because they dared to cross religious barriers and love each other.

Teenager Nabilah Arshad claims her strictly Muslim family cannot accept her being with Anil Kumar, 20, who has a Sikh background. After receiving threats, the pair fled home last week.

In a six-month relationship, the Glasgow couple vowed to remain together and plan to marry - with or without family blessing.

Nabilah, 17, says her family threatened her when they discovered she was seeing Anil in secret. She said: "I was told my legs would be broken and Anil would be shot." They had to flee for their safety, she said.

Now in hiding, Nabilah has begged her family to accept her love for Anil. But Nabilah admitted: "I don't hold out much hope."

She says a Muslim man can marry who he chooses but a woman does not have the same freedom.

Nabilah met Anil through friends a year ago but it was several months before love blossomed. As the love story moves, it becomes even more filmy.According to a Scottish newspaper, the pair went through a traditional Indian wedding. Anil claims the ceremony, at a temple in Glasgow, means they are "married in the Lord's eyes and in our own hearts".

Now they want to follow it up with a full legal UK marriage. Nabilah said: "My family didn't know about the relationship for a long time. As a Muslim, I am not meant to go out with guys, so I didn't tell them about Anil."

After running away from home, Nabilahwas reported missing and her diaries, with details of her relationship with Anil, a keen amateur boxer, currently unemployed, were found.

Nabilah claims she and Anil then began receiving threats. She explained: "Nasty things were said. Anil was told his house would be petrol bombed. We were terrified."

Despite telling her family that she wanted to marry Anil, who would convert to Islam, the parents did not agree. The situation came to a head when Nabilah's family went looking for her at Anil's house. She said: "I was pulled into a car screaming and shaking. It all came out - I was not to see Anil again."

It was then that Nabilah and Anil decided to run away. Anil said: "We have had a bad time but are determined to stay together. Our love for each other will get us through. You have to take these opportunities. Life is too short and there is no way I could contemplate not being with Nabilah.

"I am religious. I have a strong faith and belief and that is what is keeping me going. My religion is flexible but it's not the same for Nabilah."

Nabilah said: "I know my family love me and I will always love them. It would be great if they could accept Anil and I being together. I just want them to know I'm happy with Anil and want them to be happy for me."

Nabilah's father Riaz Arshad, on Thursday, rejected claims his daughter had been driven from her home. The businessman told a Glasgow paper that he had "no idea" about any threats made against the couple. When asked if he approved of Nabilah seeing a man from a different religious background, he replied repeatedly "no comment". Mr Arshad added: "It's her choice where she stays. She is 17 and old enough legally to do as she chooses."

First Published: Aug 26, 2005 16:44 IST