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Tina Dabi weds Athar Aamir Khan: IAS Couple Prove Love Trumps Hate

The marriage, for many, therefore, is the victory of India’s secular character in the face of concerted attacks from the Hindutva brigade.

Tina Dabi, the 24-year-old IAS officer who topped UPSC three years ago, and Kashmir’s Athar Aamir Khan, 25, who came second in the same exams, got married in south Kashmir’s Pahalgam on Saturday. The couple has been constantly hounded on social media—by Hindutva trolls who call their relationship Love Jihad—ever since their relationship became public.

The marriage, for many, therefore, is the victory of India’s secular character in the face of concerted attacks from the Hindutva brigade.

Dabi, a Rajasthan-cadre officer now posted in Ajmer, has also been a target of the anti-reservationists on social media.  On November 16, 2016, a woman named Renuka Jain tweeted a photo of Dabi holidaying in Amsterdam along with the following message: “Remember the Dalit girl that qualified in UPSC with reservations pushing a boy with better marks out for another year?”

The message was vitriolic. Jain was implying that Dabi had secured an IAS berth on SC quota at the cost of a more deserving candidate. Dabi had, in fact, not used reservations even when they were available to her. The tweet could be called forgettable and ignored because it actually doesn’t deserve any better. But the worrying bit about Renuka Jain is that of the 21,400 people who follow her on Twitter, the country’s Prime Minister is one.

Author Prayag Akbar found the tweet wrong on many levels. In an article titled ‘Tweets Against UPSC Topper Tina Dabi Show That The Hindutva Hatred For Dalits Runs Deep’, he wrote: Renuka Jain’s tweet demonstrated some essential aspects of how Hindutva – an ideology premised on caste hierarchy – encounters lower-caste political assertion (such as the demand for reservations in government jobs, education, positions of political authority….Khan is clearly another high achiever, finishing second in the UPSC exam, and has also been recruited into the Rajasthan cadre—plenty of common ground, if any is needed at 23, for two young people to fall in love. Yet in even those tweets that were not explicitly offensive, you could sense the spitting rage of those offended by this interfaith couple.)

A few days later, the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha wrote a letter to Dabi’s parents calling her relationship with Athar ‘love jihad’. The outfit’s national general secretary said that while they (his supporters) were proud of her achievements, it was ‘painful’ that the IAS topper had chosen to marry a Muslim.

Dabi has often spoken about the negative comments her relationship with Khan has evoked. In an interview to TOI, Tina had said that she was a free-thinking and independent woman who was entitled to her own choices and, therefore, was happy with her choice and so was her partner.

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