Star-crossed interfaith lovers get life term after 7-year trial

  • | Monday | 6th November, 2023

DEHRADUN/ROORKEE: When a married Mohammad Mukarram, 40, fell in love with Pooja Saini, 28, he knew it would be a tough relationship to pull off. There would be family pressure from both sides to end the affair and vigilantes baying for blood at a Muslim man courting a Hindu woman. There was no way they could be together.Then one day the couple from Haridwar hatched a plan.They went looking for a beggar who resembled Mukarram, found one, and burnt him to death.To mislead investigations, Mukarram left his trousers and voter ID next to the body. It would have been a perfect alibi, just as it was in the movie The Devotion of Suspect X, but it wasnt.Police initially rounded up a man named Arif, from whom Mukarram had borrowed money, believing he had killed Mukarram after the deal went sour. But things began to unravel for the couple after that. A fortnight after the beggars body was found on September 19, 2016, police received a tip-off that Mukarram was alive and the couple was planning to flee Uttarakhand. They were caught the same year. Seven years on, both Pooja and Mukarram have been sentenced to life in jail for killing the beggar in cold blood. Pooja, married to someone else, is now a mother of two kids. Additional district government counsel Rajkumar Singh said Mukarrams brother Sharafat had lodged a complaint after the body was found in Piran Kaliyar. During the course of the investigation, the police found out about Mukarrams relationship with Pooja. A few days later, police got a tipoff that the body was not Mukarrams. He was underground and the couple were planning to flee, Singh said. Putting Poojas mobile phone under surveillance, the police caught the couple, who confessed to the crime. The police also recovered the murder weapon, a hammer, from Mukarram with which he had hit the beggar on the head. After taking the couple into custody, the police removed Arifs name from the FIR on October 7, 2016, and added the names of Mukarram and Pooja under IPC Sections 302 (murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy). On May 3, 2017, Pooja managed to get bail and got married later that year. Mukarram got bail on April 26, 2018. We produced the call detail records of the couple to establish that they were in a relationship. Also, we produced 13 witnesses to prove the case, the prosecutor said. The court said, Mukarram and Pooja were in a love affair and he kept his voter ID card in the trouser pocket at the crime scene to make himself look like a dead person. Pooja was equally involved in the crime. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 35,000 on Mukarram and Rs 5,000 on Pooja.

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