Maharashtra Sets Up Panel on Inter-faith Marriages, Opposition Slams the Move


Nationalist Congress Party slammed the decision terming it as "rubbish, retrograde, nauseating step to spy" on who marries whom.

MUMBAI — The state government has set up a 10-member panel to keep an eye on ‘inter-caste marriages’, ostensibly to prevent Shraddha Walkar-type incidents in future, even as the Opposition cried foul, here on Wednesday.

Women & Child Welfare Minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha said that the panel was formed after much deliberations to avoid tragedies involving children of inter-caste marriages, particularly if the girls go against their family wishes or are estranged.

The ruling Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party have welcomed the move while the Opposition Nationalist Congress Party slammed the decision terming it as “rubbish, retrograde, nauseating step to spy” on who marries whom.

The panel, “Intercaste/Interfaith Marriage-Family Coordination Committee” (state-level) will collect full information on couples entering into such wedlocks, the families of the girl if they are estranged, or who may have eloped and provide assistance as needed”, as per a Government Resolution issued on Tuesday.

The panel will serve as a forum for such women and their families where they can get counselling and communicate to resolve issues, and it will study various other policies and laws pertaining to the issue and recommend improvements or solutions.

The move comes barely days after Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis indicated that the state would consider enacting a law on ‘love-jihad’ after studying similar legislation in other states.

Lodha clarified that the panel was not against such (intercaste/interfaith) marriages, but specifically intended to help those women who have been cut-off from their families and attempt to bring them together.

Last month, Lodha had asked the State Women’s Commissioner to form a special squad and identify women, who have married outside their caste/religion, without support of their families and are estranged, to enable extend necessary support and security as required.

The panel will collect all information on registered/unregistered intercaste/interfaith marriages, those that were solemnised only in religious places, weddings after the couple eloped, check on the wellbeing of the newly-married women and help contact their families if they have severed relations, and arrange counsellors for such parents not ready to resume relations.

The BSS Spokesperson Krishna Hegde and BJP’s Ram Kadam welcomed the initiative terming it as a step in the ‘right direction’.

NCP former Minister Dr. Jitendra Awhad pounced on the government with a strong reaction against the decision.

“What’s this rubbish of a committee to check inter-caste/inter-religion marriages? Who is the government to spy on who marries whom? In a liberal Maharashtra, this is retrograde, nauseating step. Which way is the progressive state heading to…? Stay away from peoples’ private lives,” said Dr. Awhad.

Lodha said that this panel will be a move for reconciliation and whoever wants assistance shall be given all support and urged for support to the decision, in the wake of the Shraddha Walkar incident that shocked the nation in November. — IANS

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