Aug 01, 2020
Mahisagar in Gujarat is the hub of dinosaur tourism in India. In the 1980s, paleontologists had unearthed a large cache of dinosaur eggs and fossils there. These days the city is in news for a unique love story — of two female police constables who approached the Gujarat high court for protection from their parents. The court passed an order in their favour on June 23, asking the Mahisagar SP to give them armed guards.
Avni and Preeti (names changed on request), both 24, had been living together for the past few years, open to their friends and co-workers as a couple. But to legitimise their co-habitation, the couple entered a maitri karar, a “friendship contract” which is a notarised document, on June 10. It was created in Gujarat in the 1970s to make it easy for married Hindu men to have a mistress without violating the Hindu Marriage Act. In recent years the contract system has often been used to legitimise relationships that don’t enjoy social sanction, like inter-faith marriages and same sex relationships.
After Preeti’s parents came to know about it, they started harassing her. “They came to our house and demanded that I leave my job and go back with them. They don’t understand my relation with Avni and they don’t care about what I want in life and how I want to live it,” said Preeti, who comes from a farming family in Bhavnagar.
Rattled, the two wrote to the SP (Mahisagar) for protection but, they said, the police didn’t respond. So they filed a PIL in the Gujarat HC. When TOI spoke to Mahisagar SP Usha Rada, she said that the department was setting up an investigation into the complaint which took some time. “In the meantime, the two went ahead and filed a PIL. We are only concerned about how they will do their police work. We don’t have anything to do with their personal lives,” Rada said.
On July 23, Justice A J Desai ordered, “…Mahisagar SP is hereby directed to look into the matter and take immediate steps. If required, the petitioners shall be provided police protection.”
After the order, the women have been left alone. “They never expected it’d go to court. These girls showed a lot of courage. They are educated women and in government service but they didn’t shy from fighting for their right to live and love the way they want,” said Zakir Rathod, their advocate, who claimed Avni and Preeti were Gujarat police’s first openly lesbian couple.
Manavendra Singh Gohil, the erstwhile prince of Rajpipla in Gujarat who is gay and a champion of the LGBT cause says that they probably are but cannot be sure in the absence of written records. “Since this couple has outed their sexuality to their families and co-workers then it that sense it’s definitely the first such case,” he says.