A Pakistani woman and an Indian man who met and fell in love in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds are facing serious jail time after being arrested in India. A New York Times report says the pair were arrested just two months after they began secretly living in the city of Greater Noida, she for entering the country illegally and he for harboring a fugitive.
Seema Ghulam Haider and Sachin Meena first encountered each other in PUBG in 2019 after Haider's husband moved to Saudi Arabia for work. They eventually began talking through social media and telephone calls. "Sachin used to talk to someone late at night, as late as 2-3 am," his uncle Birbal Meena told the Times. "Then he confessed that he was in love with a Pakistani woman and intended to marry her."
The family did not approve of his connection with "a woman from an enemy country," but the pair nonetheless met up in Nepal in March. After spending a week together, they returned home, but they reunited in Nepal in May. For their second meeting, Haider brought her four children, and instead of returning to their respective home countries, they all went to India. The couple and her children lived together briefly in a town not far from the Indian capital of New Delhi.
Ironically, it appears that they were busted because of their efforts to make everything legal. A Times of India report says the pair went to a local lawyer to discuss her residency and their planned marriage, but instead of helping resolve their problems, the lawyer ratted them out to the cops when he discovered Haider was from Pakistan.
"I was startled when I found out that she and her children (three daughters and a son) were carrying Pakistani passports," the lawyer said. "She was making inquiries about the process of getting married in India. She said she wanted to marry Sachin."
The lawyer had one of his associates follow them after they left his office. "When I learned they were living in a house in Rabupura, I informed the police," he said.
It reflects the state of relations between Hindu-majority India and Pakistan, an Islamic nation. The two nuclear-armed countries have fought multiple wars since Pakistan's creation in 1947, and tensions between them remain high. India has also pursued an increasingly violent, brutal crackdown on Muslims in recent years.
Meena is part of India's Hindu majority but Haider is Muslim, and that may explain at least in part the remarkably heavy-handed response of Indian authorities to the presence of one Pakistani Muslim woman and her four children: The Times of India report says local police were assisted by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad in the arrest of Haider and Meena, and the country's intelligence agencies are also investigating.
But it seems that their love is real—or at least, not motivated by anything sinister. Meena only earned about $100 a month at his (apparently now former) job at a local store, and police said he hadn't lied about his financial or social standing, or made any other promises he couldn't keep, to attract Haider to the country.
"She knew that he was not financially very strong," Rabupura police head Sudhir Kumar said. "She was not impressed by his work, but by his PUBG skills."
A BBC report says Haider and Meena have both been jailed for 14 days while an investigation is carried out, and could be facing several years in prison. Haider's husband, who she says was abusive prior to his departure for Saudi Arabia, wants her and the children returned to Pakistan, but the new couple has appealed to the Indian government to help them get married.