Seeking His Daughter

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BJP has two items crucial to its vote bank politics: the beati (daughter) and the jawan (soldier). But Jammu is witnessing an interesting case. A soldier, currently posted in Kupwara, campaigned for a BJP lawmaker during elections but finally the same person “kidnapped” his daughter, reports Pallavi Sareen

Within minutes after the immodest pictures of BJP lawmaker Dr Gagan Bhagat and a local teen­ager Meenakshi went viral on social media, a modest home in 70-household Kalyani locality in RS Pura went into an instant mourning. Mostly the farming community where illiteracy rate is higher but the ‘dirty picture’ spread faster than the seasoned water supply to their fields.

Meenakshi, a college student, was last seen in her hostel of Desh Bhagat University on March 8 at 2 am. Her father Rajinder Shar­ma, an army man, presently posted in Kupwara, reported to police on June 21, that his daugh­ter was missing.

Initially, the community was worried. But since the day pic­tures came out, the family is indoors, probably too embar­rassed to move out. Neighbour’s sympathies have changed into taunts.

But the family is exhausted. “We have already approached police and BJP officials to locate our daughter but nobody dares to take action against the MLA, who is in the pictures with my missing daughter,” says Sharma. He insists that if Baghat has taken his daughter as his wife, he should come forward, make it public and take her home.

But both Bhagat and Meenakshi are missing. Dr Gagan Bhagat is reluctant to talk on his ‘extra marital affair’ insisting it is his personal issue. But for Monika Sharma, his wife of 13 years, also a BJP member, it is beyond that. The situation is that she is sup­portive of the missing teenager’s family’s hunt for her.

“One day I saw a text message reading ‘I love you’ on his phone and when I enquired he avoided saying the user is his follower,” Monika said. She pursued the issue and finally landed in the Gandhi Nagar Women’s College where she located Meenakshi talking to her husband.

“I started interrogating her and she informed me that she and Gagan were good friends,” Monika said. “I asked her how can she be friends with a man who is 40, more than double her age. I was very harsh to her. And after a while she confessed and showed me their pictures. They were totally nude.”

Meanwhile Gagan rang her up. When he got to know that his wife was talking to Meenkashi, Monika said, he threatened her of a divorce, on phone. While they were still talking and Gagan reached the spot. She had taken Meenakshi into her father’s car parked outside the college. It was there the two women shared everything about Gagan, the man between the two.

THE LIAISON

Meenakshi told her their love affair started with regular chat­ting. “It had started in June 2017, when Meenakshi was sitting for her NEET exam. She had come in contact the MLA, seeking the reserved MLA seat. Then there was some marks issues as well.” Meenakshi came in contact with Baghat because her father had worked for his election campaign­ing in the area.

This is what Meenakshi’s father also supports. “I am a poor man and just for the sake of education of my daughter, I approached the MLA,” Sharma said. “He helped me but I had never imagined that he will betray me like this.”

By the time the two ladies were busy talking, Gagan reached the spot, forced his Jaan out of the car and misbehaved with his sister-in-law’s son. Monika said as some people started video recording her “humilia­tion”, she found it better to move out of scene.

Monika says this was not her husband’s first such case. “I have caught him quite frequent­ly,” she said. “But I was helpless to take any step because it was a choice marriage. I always forgave him for his wrongdoing thinking he will understand that he was doing wrong,” The couple – both medical doctors – has an 18 months old son. She says her biggest problem is that her son has started asking about what the word “girlfriend” is all about.

Presently the doctor couple is living separately. Gagan says he has already filed for the divorce but his wife claims she never received any notice. “It is incor­rect. The fact is that I have filed a petition for maintenance. I am seeking Rs one lakh, a month, but, so far, I have not received a single penny. Let us see what happens in the next hearing,” she said. “After putting in 13 years in a relationship, I have an identity crisis. Am I his wife or that girl?”

DEPLOYED ON BORDER

The sepoy Rajender Sharma, Meenakshi’s father is a de­stroyed man. He is desperate to see his daughter. “Sometimes he keeps her in Jammu, sometimes he takes her to Shimla. We have had no contact with her,” Sharma said. “I have pleaded with the police administration, DSP sir, SP Kotwal sir, IG Rafeeq sir but no one has helped me because he is an MLA and I am a soldier. SP sir had told us to give them two day’s time and they will return our daughter back to us. But when there is power and money involved, no one listens to a poor man.”

Sharma filed the missing report on June 24 at 10 pm in the police station Arniya. “He has been threatening me and my father. I even have recordings of those threats wherein he says he is an MLA and he will use his powers,” Sharma said.

Presently managing it with difficulty to move between his home in RS Pura and his duty in Kupwara, Sharma says if BJP MLA Gagan has married his daughter then he should come to the court and give it in writing. “I am on duty and am afraid for the safety of my old father and little kids at home,” he said.

“My daughter is missing from March 08 and since then he has kept her with him. We consider this kidnap. She is just nineteen now, and when this whole affair began she was only 18. I want to speak to ex CM Mufti or Amit Shah sir so that I can plead in front of them that the police administration is not helping us. We have even appealed the Gov­ernor for a meeting plenty of times but we are not being allowed to meet him,” claimed Sharma.

Sharma is facing a peculiar problem. The soldier is posted in Kupwara. “The next hearing of the case might be around July 22, but I am still posted here so I have to wait till my next leave,” Sharma said. “I had written to a lawyer but could not sign the wakalatnama because my leave had ended and I had to rush to the duty.”

The soldier is insisting that the entire system seemingly has conspired against him. “If Gagan goes to the hostel and takes my daughter at 2 am in the night, should not I ask the University why it happened?” he said. “When I sought this information, they told me to get a court order and approach them through court. Do I have no rights as parent?”

But the biggest regret of the soldier is: “We just have one daughter and it is Prime Minis­ter’s motto ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’. But how is this possible? His wife is a doctor and he has already ruined her life and now my daughter is in line. She is just 19. If he kills her tomorrow and blames it on me, who is to stop him? He is part of the ruling party.”

BJP RESPONSE

Efforts to get a formal response from the BJP failed. However it was reported that the party has set up a committee to investigate the allegations of “moral corrup­tion”. High Court lawyer Sunil Sethi will head the Committee with N D Rajwal and S Varinder­jeet Singh as members. The com­mittee had asked Baghat to pro­duce before the committee but no details are available.

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