3 months on, not a single complaint before committee to probe inter-faith marriages in Maha
Mumbai: Earlier this month, on March 8th , women and child development minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha set off a political storm when he claimed that there were one hundred thousand cases of so-called ‘love jihad’ in Maharashtra
Mumbai: Earlier this month, on March 8th , women and child development minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha set off a political storm when he claimed that there were one hundred thousand cases of so-called ‘love jihad’ in Maharashtra. This, despite the fact that there is no such data available.
In December last year his ministry set up a committee to probe inter-faith marriages. The committee’s remit was to seek information about couples who had gotten into an inter-faith marriage—the initial ambit of the committee was also inter-caste couples which was subsequently dropped-- and to help families whose daughters in such marriages may have become estranged from them. Last month, the minister claimed that the 12-member committee had already received 152 complaints. It now turns out that the committee has not received a single complaint so far. R. Vimla, commissioner, women and child development, confirmed that the committee has not received a single complaint. She is also a member of the interfaith committee which is headed by Lodha himself.
Samajwadi Party MLA Rais Shaikh had filed an application with the women and child development commissioner on February 16 seeking the total number of complaints and their details received by the interfaith committee till date. A copy of R.Vimla’s response is with HT.
SP state president and MLA Abu Asim Azmi said he has moved a privilege motion against the minister for making misleading claims in the state assembly. “But there is no response from the legislature administration so far.” If the privilege motion against Lodha is not admitted in the Assembly, he said he would move court against the minister. “A group of people are trying to polarize Maharashtra by making baseless claims of ‘love jihad’ which is far from what the ground reality is,” he said.
An agglomeration of Hindutva outfits called Hindu Sakal Samaj has been carrying out protests and rallies across the state clamouring for a law against religious conversion and playing up the bogey of ‘love jihad.’ They have also been calling for an economic boycott of products with halal tag. Last week, Lodha told the Maharashtra Assembly that over one hundred thousand cases of ‘love jihad’ had been found in Maharashtra without citing any source for this figure. This, he added, was the reason rally after rally were being held by the aggrieved Hindu community. “These rallies of thousands are not happening in all the districts just like that. They (Hindus) are angry. It is the state government’s responsibility to prevent a repeat of the Shraddha Walkar case,” Lodha said while participating in a debate to mark Women’s Day in the lower house of the state legislature.
Political parties in opposition and several women’s and citizens’ groups in Maharashtra have criticised the setting up of a committee to probe interfaith couples saying it does not account for women’s agency; targets men from a particular community, and lays the ground for a law against religious conversion