2 held as interfaith couple tries to register marriage

A case under Section 3 of new Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 was registered against Rashid and his brother Saleem and they were sent to jail.
A one-minute video circulating on social media shows the activists of the Hindu organisation Bajrang Dal, with saffron scarves around their necks, questioning the woman in the presence of policemen inside the police station.(Screengrab)
A one-minute video circulating on social media shows the activists of the Hindu organisation Bajrang Dal, with saffron scarves around their necks, questioning the woman in the presence of policemen inside the police station.(Screengrab)
Updated on Dec 07, 2020 05:04 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Meerut | By S Raju

A group of right-wing activists stopped the registration formalities of an interfaith marriage in Kaanth area of Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad district on Saturday and brought the couple and the groom’s brother to the local police station.

A case under Section 3 of new Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 was registered against Rashid and his brother Saleem and they were sent to jail.

A one-minute video circulating on social media shows the activists of the Hindu organisation Bajrang Dal, with saffron scarves around their necks, questioning the woman in the presence of policemen inside the police station.

“Show us the permission you have taken from the district magistrate to convert your religion,” an activist asks the woman.

Another man asks: “Have you read the new law or not.”

The Uttar Pradesh ordinance outlaws religious conversions by marriage, coercion, deceit or enticement. The law was promulgated about a month after Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath vowed to end “love jihad”, a term used by right-wing activists to describe marital relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women.

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, was promulgated on November 24. The law prescribes a jail term varying between one to five years, in addition to fine of up to 15,000 for those convicted under the law. The jail term goes up to 10 years and fine up to 25,000 for conversions of women belonging to scheduled caste or scheduled tribe communities or those who are minors.

Inspector of the Kaanth police station Ajay Gautam said that the girl’s mother had complained against Rashid and his brother Saleem in which she charged Rashid with enticing her daughter by posing as Sonu and hiding his original identity. He is now forcing her daughter to convert her religion, she alleged.

The woman, in the video, however denied the charges levelled by her mother. “I am 22-year-old and we married on July 24 and came here to get it registered in the court,” said the woman. It was not clear whether she had already changed her religion.

Inspector Gautam seemed convinced that Rashid and Saleem were forcing the woman to convert her religion. When asked how he had verified the matter of her religious conversion, Gautam said: “The girl was wearing a burqa and was taken to a Maulvi”.

Reacting to the incident, Mufti Zulfikar, state president of the All India Imam Association, said: “This new law has been enacted only to fulfil the political agenda of the BJP {Bharatiya Janata Party} and it would be misused to send innocents to jail”.

In a week since the promulgation of the law, six FIRs have been registered under it in five districts of the state, police officials said on Sunday.

Of the 29 people booked, 10 have been arrested in three cases filed in Sitapur, Bareilly and Moradabad districts since Wednesday, the officials said.

The state cabinet cleared the law earlier in November, targeting what many right-wing outfits term “love jihad”, which involves Muslim men marrying Hindu women with the aim of changing the latter’s religion after marriage.

According to the ordinance, marriages with the intention of changing the woman’s religion will be declared null and void.

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Monday, October 18, 2021