A Pakistani woman took her four kids and made a dangerous trek to India to be with her lover.
The woman met the man through the popular video game PUBG, NYT reported.
The woman was arrested on charges of illegally entering India, and the man for sheltering her.
A woman made a risky trek into India with her four children to be with a man she met through a popular battle royale game known as PUBG.
In about a month, their cross-border love briefly put them in jail, The New York Times reported.
The woman, Seema Ghulam Haider, 27, met Sachin Meena, 22, on PUBG: Battlegrounds in 2019.
PUBG is a multiplayer shooter that became an instant hit when the game was launched in 2017, making $400 million within six months of its release. India tried banning PUBG a few times, believing that students were losing interest in their studies because the game was too addicting.
According to the Hindustan Times, a Delhi-based newspaper, Haider said the two would play “for hours on end…and never stopped talking.” They soon expressed their love for one another, but their romance came with complications.
For one, Haider is married. Her relationship with Meena began around the time her husband, Ghulam Haider, moved to Saudi Arabia for a job, according to BBC.
Their distance and cultural backgrounds arguably posed more significant barriers: Haider is a Pakistani Muslim woman while Meena is a Hindu Indian man, the Times reported.
Pakistan and India fought several wars after the partition of British India in 1947. Decades later, tensions have barely simmered.
There’s also an ongoing stigma against interfaith relationships between a Hindu and a Muslim.
In Pakistan, Hindu marriages were only legitimized under the law in 2017. Muslim-Hindu relationships in India are often labeled a “love jihad” — an idea perpetrated by hard-line Hindu conservatives that Muslim men seek Hindu women to force them to convert to Islam.
Still, the couple persisted. Haider met Meena in person for the first time in Nepal without her children in March, the Times reported, citing police officials.
According to the Times, police said Meena did not lure Haider with false promises.
“She knew that he was not financially very strong,” Sudhir Kumar, head of the Rabupura police station, said, according to the Times. “She was not impressed by his work, but by his PUBG skills.”
In May, Haider planned to go to India with her children, who are all under seven years old, by first making her way to Nepal. The couple later told reporters they devised a route by “searching on YouTube,” according to the Times.
Haider’s father-in-law, Mir Jan Jhakrani, told the Times that Haider sold her and her husband’s home in Pakistan without her partner’s knowledge to make the trek.
Haider denied the allegations and told authorities that she sold a plot of her parents’ land, BBC reported. She also told authorities her husband beat her, and she had sought a divorce.
For more than a month, Haider and her four children lived with Meena and his father in Greater Noida, a city south of New Delhi, police said, according to BBC.
The couple was caught on Tuesday after a lawyer notified authorities, the Times of India reported. The two sought advice from the attorney regarding Haider’s residency and marriage.
Haider and her four children were arrested on charges of illegally entering the country. Meena and his father were arrested on charges of sheltering Haider without a visa.
A local court granted bail to the three individuals who were released on Saturday, stating that the woman had not crossed the border “with any wrong intention,” according to Indian Express,
The couple is now seeking help from the Indian government to get married, BBC reported.
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