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SOURCE:  SUNDAY GUARDIAN LIVE

The story of Ajit Patil, a military man from Maharashtra, and Suman Devi, a Hindu girl from Kashmir, is no less than a fairy tale. The two are now man and wife, but that wouldn’t have been possible if Article 370 wasn’t scrapped from Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2019, Ajit Patil, a resident of Undale village of Karad tehsil of Maharashtra’s Satara district, arrived in Jhansi for his first posting after getting a job as Army Education Instructor in the Indian Army, Jhansi. During that time, Suman Devi, sister of a Kashmiri colleague of Ajit Patil working with him, came to stay from Kashmir for a few days as a guest in Jhansi. Suman Devi was a resident of Palmar village of Jodhanagar Tehsil of Kishtwar district of Kashmir. One day, Ajit Patil met Suman Devi at his house and both of them fell in love, but the biggest obstacle to their relationship was Article 370.

Before the removal of Article 370, any citizen of India was not allowed to marry a Kashmiri girl; only Pakistani and Kashmiri boys were allowed to marry Kashmiri girls. So before 9 August 2019, it was not possible for them to get married. So, there was no talk of marriage between Ajit Patil and Suman Devi.

Meanwhile, in March 2020, Ajit Patil went to attend a programme in Kishtwar district of Kashmir. But then, the coronavirus pandemic started and Ajit Patil got stuck in Kashmir for three whole months. In those three months, the love affair between Ajit Patil and Suman Devi grew to the point when both decided to get married. After June 2020, when the Covid-19 situation gradually started improving, Ajit Patil returned to Jhansi. After working for three months in Jhansi, he reached his village in Karad, Satara district. After reaching Satara, Patil told his family about his love. At first, Patil’s family was very nervous as news of terrorist attacks in Kashmir worried them. Patil talked about the scrapping of Article 370 and how it was now possible for him to marry a Kashmiri girl. Finally, Patil’s family agreed to meet Suman Devi’s family and Patil’s family finally agreed to accept Suman Devi as their daughter-in-law. Suman Devi married Ajit Patil and, thus, “Kashmir ki kali” Suman Devi became a “daughter-in-law” of Maharashtra, and Maharashtrian Patil became the first official “son-in-law” of Kashmir after the removal of Article 370.

On 27 November 2020, both Ajit Patil and Suman Devi got married as per Kashmiri culture and tradition. After this, both of them got married again on 18 December as per Maharashtrian culture in the village in Karad. Currently, both the husband and wife are living in Karad, Satara, of Maharashtra.

Suman Devi is very fond of Marathi culture and Marathi cuisine like valan and kothambir vadi. She has started speaking a little Marathi too. She told The Sunday Guardian that after this marriage, more Kashmiri girls will get married to Indian boys outside Kashmir.

“I will get a chance to go to different states and this will also strengthen Indian culture,” she said. Ajit Patil said that revoking Article 370 helped both of them turn their fairy tale love story into a wedding, something that was not possible for ordinary citizens earlier. After marriage, Suman Devi’s name has changed to Suman Bai in Satara. She is a Class 12 student. She wants to continue her education in Satara and Ajit Patil’s family also allows her to continue her studies.