Police in Navsari on Thursday morning located and brought back an 18-year-old tribal woman and a 19-year-old Muslim man who had eloped and taken off to Bharuch. Vishwa Hindu Parishad members and gau-rakshaks, along with parents of the young woman, had caused a road block in the town on Wednesday evening, demanding that police track down the couple, failing which they would call for a shutdown in the town.
Police found the young couple in Jambusar taluka of Bharuch. The couple had eloped on October 14.
Police said that when the family members realised that the young woman was missing and searched for her, some local youths told them that she was spotted sitting in an autorickshaw at Tighra checkpost in Navsari. They then returned home to look for clues on where she might have gone, and found her mobile phone in her almirah. On checking her WhatsApp messages, they learned that she had been in a relationship with a Muslim youth.
The parents promptly gathered their relatives and descended on the house of the young man. They were told that he was missing too, and his mobile phone was switched off. They then lodged a complaint with Navsari rural police station against the youth on October 15.
After learning about the elopement, Navsari district Jalalpore Gram Panchayat Sarpanch and gau-rakshak Sajan Bharwad and VHP leaders Ashwin Barot and Sanjay Bhagat, met the family members of the young woman and assured them their support in locating the couple.
The VHP members and gau-rakshaks of Navsari district then held a roadblock at Jamalpore area in Navsari, causing a traffic congestion. The police arrived there and assured the protesters that they would bring back the woman, and dispersed the crowd. Sajan Bharwad threatened to declare a shutdown in Navsari if the police did not bring back the woman in 24 hours.
Navsari District Superintendent of Police Girish Pandya formed two teams to locate the woman. Finally late Wednesday night, the couple were found in a room in Jambusar taluka in Bharuch, and brought back to Navsari early Thursday morning.
Sources said that the Muslim youth hailed from Jambusar and that the family had shifted to Navsari 10 years ago. His father runs a tea stall. The young woman had competed class 12. She came across the youth on Facebook and they became friends one-and-a-half years ago, police said. Their friendship later developed into a romantic relationship, and they began meeting in various places on the outskirts of Navsari town.
VHP leader Ashwin Barot said, “In the past few years around 12 Hindu girls have eloped with Muslim youths from Navsari. We have counselled these girls and brought them back to their homes.”