According to the ordinance, interfaith couples have to get approval from the district magistrate before solemnising the marriage
NEW DELHI — The Moradabad police in Uttar Pradesh arrested a Muslim man after he and a Hindu woman visited a court for registering their marriage.
Members of Hindu outfit snitched on the couple and waylaid them inside the court premises before they could proceed with the paperwork. The mob acted in vigilante fashion and took the couple and even the man’s brother to the police station in the Kanth area.
A viral video filmed inside the police station shows the mob asking the couple to show the permission of the district magistrate. A man in the video asks them whether they have read the new law prohibiting marriages for conversion.
However, the woman told the media that she was marrying the Muslim man out of her consent and that she was an adult. “I got married of my own free will on July 24. This is the fifth month that we have been married,” the woman said.
According to the ordinance, interfaith couples have to get approval from the district magistrate before solemnising the marriage. This came following years of campaigning by rightwing groups, including the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath racking up the bogey of love jihad, a conspiracy theory that Muslim men hoodwink women into love and marry for subsequent conversion to Islam.
At least four incidents of police actions under new ordinances have been reported so far in the media.
The first case was registered in Bareilly on November 28, a day after the ordinance was promulgated. The police named one Owais Ahmad in the Deorania police station under Section 3 and 5. The police acted on the complaint of the woman’s father who accused Ahmad of “coercing” her daughter into conversion.
The second incident happened in Lucknow when the police arrived at the wedding and stopped the couple from tying the knot. Though the police did not file the case, the wedding has been stalled until the couple gets the official nod even as reports said they did not plan to convert.
Similar to what happened in Moradabad, a video went viral on media showing police dragging away a young couple from court premises in Aligarh where they had come for marriage registration. The police arrested the man, Sonu Malik, a Muslim.
The families of the arrested men are also crying foul. According to a report in India Today, the family of the Bareilly man Owais, who is under arrest, has claimed wrongdoing in the case. “In 2019, the girl had run away on her own will, and the police had already filed a closure report after she was found. The girl had given in writing that she had no relation with Ahmed in the earlier case, but now the wrong case has been filed under the new law. At the same time, the girl’s family is silent on this matter,” the report said, citing Ahmad’s parents.
The ordinance has been challenged in the supreme Court of India as well where a PIL has been filed by Vishal Thakre, Abhay Singh Yadav and Pranvesh. The PIL has challenged its constitutionality and demanded to be declared null and void. “The ordinance passed by the state of UP is against the public policy and society at large,” a report in Live Law quoted from the petition.
The rights activists have criticised the law and the subsequent police cases saying it violates the right of the people and the police is making use of the law arbitrarily.
The incidents show that the police have targeted interfaith couples getting married under the Special Marriage Act. “It is clear that the law has been made to target interfaith couples in which the man is Muslim,” said Kavita Krishnan, a prominent women’s rights activist.
She also questioned the clause in the law which allowwed people other than the woman involved to be complainants. “This law has political purposes and nothing to do with protection of women as they claim”.
Krishnan termed the law as “government-sponsored honour crime”.