He seemed like a perfect guy on Facebook
Twenty-five-year-old Zeba Nazmi had met Raghib Shahid on Facebook. Late-night chats were soon followed by sharing numbers and endless chats over the phone. Shahid, a resident of Kolkata, had introduced himself as a descendant of one of the khadims (caretakers) of Ajmer Sharif dargah to Zeba, a resident of Ranchi.
Frequent chats and sharing details soon turned into a full-fledged long-distance romance, where both seemed to be smitten by each other. Recalling those moments, Zeba said, “I was completely in awe of him. One, because he said he is one of the gaddinashin of Ajmer Dargah and secondly because of his good looks and suave nature.”
After about six months, the duo began meeting each other. Apparently, Zeba had some relatives in Kolkata, so each time she visited Kolkata, she met Shahid. It was during one such visit that they decided to marry. After the duo decided to take the relationship forward, they introduced their parents and voila, within a month’s time, the duo had their Nikah solemnised in Kolkata itself. However, it was not a fairy tale happy ending for them; for it was from here that Zeba’s life turned into a living hell.
After marriage, his true colours were revealed
“When we were dating, he was such a soft-spoken person. But post-wedding I realised that he wasn’t that sweet at all. With every passing day, he was getting abusive. He would simply do what his mother told him to do,” she recalled. However, her turmoil didn’t end with this. Soon, her in-laws began demanding dowry in cash or in kind. She was often left locked in her room after being physically abused. “I was tolerating the beatings too, but when my husband began avoiding coming home for days, I could smell something sinister. I confided in my mother-in-law, who instead of reprimanding her son, was only too eager to encourage him into an extramarital affair. Their agenda was simple – marry and take dowry and then file for divorce.”
Zeba is not the only girl to have been lured into a relationship on the basis of a super attractive social media profile. According to a Jaipur-based cybersecurity expert, Mukesh Choudhary, there is a sharp rise in the number of such cases. “With the youths spending so much of their time online, it is obvious that they are getting into relationships via Facebook, online dating applications or even via matrimonial sites. But they need to be careful while selecting their partners through the Internet, because most people don’t share the real details and sometimes they create really impressive profiles to impress gullible girls,” he said.
Related reading: Dating apps: Great to find real fake people?
Matrimonial websites can be dangerous if you’re not careful
According to Choudhary, matrimonial sites have turned into a bigger menace, as users often use them to lure girls. He shared, “Recently one of my clients called me seeking my help. In this case, the suitable boy, whom my client is dating now, got her into an online relationship. First, they began with sweet nothings and then graduated to adult talk and then came the bomb. He asked her to set up a Web chat, which he recorded and is now using to blackmail her. So, we need to be very careful while sharing details or pictures with our partners, real or virtual. They can simply pass on your information to others or sell your pictures and videos to porn sites.”
According to most experts, one can’t blame social media if love turns sour in the age of social media romance. “Relationships can fail, whether real or virtual and the same is the case for someone duping you. As an individual, you need to be alert and not believe everything that is shared. Being sceptical helps in such cases,” says Kolkata-based life instructor and consultant psychologist, Paromita Mitra Bhaumik. She gives certain thumb rules that one needs to follow while dating someone they meet on social media.
Rules to follow before beginning a social media relationship
- Make friends with the known; at least only accept requests from people who are on your friend’s friend list, so that you can inquire from them, if required.
- Always accept requests only from people who use genuine pictures as their profile picture.
- Make it a must to verify the work he does. Fake profiles do not have details like social events or tagged pictures on their timeline. They usually stick to selfies and quotes.
- And before taking the relationship to the next level, have the details like address and phone numbers verified by an app like Truecaller or common friends
- Ask questions, posers always dodge them
So, does that mean that one could hire a detective to get the details verified? Choudhary excludes that option. He says, “It’s illegal to hire detectives, as they invade a person’s privacy and it would amount to spying. I would recommend individuals to be alert, smart and a little reserved. Don’t believe information shared with you in totality. Hold back. Don’t share pictures. If you suspect something, give the relationship a break. It won’t hurt. It’s better than being duped or becoming a victim of revenge porn.”
So, if you are one of those who like to indulge in a bit of online romance, remember the golden rule – always be alert and never share extra details with your online date. Because it definitely takes time for a person to reveal their true colours.