Rural Sindh’s Sunita Rathor married her first cousin, Dr Deepak Raj, despite staunch resistance as marriage among first cousins is not practiced among Hindus. But Sunita and Deepak fell in love and their union prevailed against religious customs.

The couple’s life was shook in April 2015 when Dr Deepak was severely injured in an incident of police firing in Hyderabad. Reports surrounding the incident are shaky — though it was proved he was a victim of excessive use of force by police, there were some who claimed police personnel had been influenced to attack him by unidentified individuals.

For five years since that tragedy, which left Dr Deepak’s legs in a state of paralysis, Sunita took care of her disabled husband all by herself. They moved to Karachi as they were not assisted by their own family members. In Karachi, they were supported by some individuals while Sunita also got a job with the help of the government.

In November 2020, reports were published in the local media that Sunita had changed her religion and married a Muslim man with Deepak’s consent.

The incident resulted in unnecessary controversy as conversions of Hindu women to marry Muslim men are mostly highlighted for being forced, even though that was not the case here.

Deepak, in a social media post, stated that both he and Sunita, whose Muslim name is now Sonia, agreed to her second marriage with Rameez Khan. Sunita’s former husband categorically called for an end to her character assassination. “She has the full right to live her life,” he asserted.

“It is my decision. My sentiments are attached to a person [Rameez], which were once attached to Deepak,” Sunita said in a TV programme, and blamed society for failing to support her while she was treating her former husband.

Mahesh Kumar, editor of Sindhi Daily Sindh who closely followed the case, informed Sabaat that some elements were maligning Sunita’s name on social media though it was her right to decide about her life. “It is her fundamental right to marry a person of her own choice. She cared for Dr Deepak for five years. She had her requirements to meet,” he emphasised further.

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