Love knows no bounds, and sometimes it takes a risky journey across borders to prove its strength. In an extraordinary tale of cross-border romance, a woman from Pakistan embarked on a daring adventure with her four children to be with a man she met through the popular battle royale game PUBG.
Seema Ghulam Haider, a 27-year-old woman, connected with Sachin Meena, a 22-year-old man, while playing PUBG: Battlegrounds in 2019. PUBG, a multiplayer shooter game, gained immense popularity upon its release in 2017, amassing $400 million in just six months. In India, concerns about the game’s addictive nature led to several attempted bans, as authorities believed it affected students’ focus on their studies.
Haider and Meena developed a strong bond through their hours-long gaming sessions, leading to a deep connection. However, their romance faced numerous complications from the start. Haider was already married, and her relationship with Meena began when her husband moved to Saudi Arabia for work. Furthermore, the couple belonged to different religious backgrounds, with Haider as a Pakistani Muslim woman and Meena as a Hindu Indian man.
The historical context between Pakistan and India added another difficulty to their relationship. The partition of British India in 1947 resulted in several wars between the two countries, and tensions still exist today. Moreover, interfaith relationships between Hindus and Muslims are stigmatized in both countries. While Hindu marriages were legally recognized in Pakistan only in 2017, Muslim-Hindu relationships in India often face opposition due to the concept of “love jihad,” propagated by conservative Hindu groups who falsely claim that Muslim men aim to convert Hindu women to Islam.
Despite these obstacles, Haider and Meena persevered. They met in person for the first time in Nepal, leaving Haider’s children behind, according to police officials cited by The New York Times. Authorities clarified that Meena did not deceive Haider with false promises. Instead, she was attracted to his PUBG skills rather than his financial status or occupation.
In May, Haider made plans to travel to India with her four children, all under the age of seven, by first reaching Nepal. The couple reportedly relied on YouTube videos to find a suitable route. Haider’s father-in-law claimed that she sold her and her husband’s home in Pakistan without his knowledge to fund the journey. However, Haider denied these allegations, stating that she sold a plot of her parent’s land. She also alleged domestic violence and sought a divorce from her husband.
Haider and her children resided with Meena and his father for over a month in Greater Noida, a city south of New Delhi. However, their situation turned when a lawyer informed the authorities about their presence. The couple had sought legal advice regarding Haider’s residency and marriage. Consequently, Haider, her children, Meena, and his father were arrested for illegally entering the country and providing shelter without a visa.
Fortunately, a local court granted bail to Haider, her children, and Meena, emphasizing that Haider had not crossed the border with any malicious intentions. The Indian Express reported their release on Saturday. Currently, the couple is seeking assistance from the Indian government to legalize their marriage.
This extraordinary tale showcases the power of love and the lengths individuals are willing to go to be with their beloved, even in the face of societal norms, cultural barriers, and geopolitical tensions.