Hours after Hindutva proponent and Sudarshan News editor-in-chief Suresh Chavhanke tweeted out details of an interfaith couple’s wedding reception invitation and linked it to the Shraddha Walkar murder case, Imran and Divya were forced to call off their function in Vasai, on the outskirts of Mumbai.
Mukul* (name changed to protect identity), the manager of the reception venue in Vasai’s Anand Nagar, told The Quint that the families of Divya and Imran have now cancelled their reception programme at his venue.
Speaking to The Quint, a senior police official acquainted with the matter stated, “Both bride and groom are consenting adults and their families are supportive of their marriage. We have no issue (with the wedding reception).”
The couple are already married, and the event on 20 November was just their celebratory wedding reception. S Patil, another police official in Vasai, told this reporter, "We spoke with the woman and the man, they have had a court marriage."
How an Unrelated Wedding Reception Was Linked to the Shraddha Walkar Murder Case
On Friday, 18 November, Chavhanke tweeted an image of the wedding reception invitation of the interfaith couple, and remarked that Imran and Divya are getting married in Vasai. He wrote, “Aftab is a native of Vasai, he is the same man who chopped Shraddha into 35 pieces. Even after such a heart-wrenching crime, how can an interfaith wedding like this happen there?”
At the time of publishing this article, the tweet had already received more than 7,900 likes and over 3,800 retweets.
And that is how the trouble began, for Divya, Imran and their families.
‘The Situation Is Politically Motivated, We Don’t Want To Take a Chance’
Mukul*, the venue manager, told The Quint, “I have been getting calls since morning, with people asking me about Imran and Divya’s wedding.”
On Friday afternoon, when this reporter first spoke to Mukul*, he said that he would contact the families in the evening and cancel the wedding event (at his venue) since it was not safe.
“I’ll incur some loss, but safety comes first. I don't want to get into a political issue,” he had remarked.
By the evening though, he claims that the families themselves had decided to call off the wedding reception at his venue. The reception was slated to take place on Sunday, 20 November.
"The families of both the bride and the groom came to us and have cancelled their reception programme at our venue."Mukul*, wedding reception venue manager
Mukul* also claimed that the bride and groom were initially unaware that their invitation had become viral, and for the wrong reasons at that. “Even they have received so many calls from different people since morning,” he said.
Explaining his position on the matter, the manager said, "We don't care if someone is Muslim or Hindu, it's none of our business. We are here to work. However, whatever has transpired is politically motivated, and we don't want to take a chance."
The Quint reached out to Divya, the bride, for a comment but has received no response so far.
A police official familiar with the matter stated that they learned about Suresh Chavhanke's tweet after receiving a copy of it.
When asked what actions the police should take to prevent the dissemination of private information such as a wedding invitation of an interfaith couple, he stated that the police cannot stop any wedding invitation from going viral. “Since the invitation is already in public domain, we cannot do anything about it,” he said.
Chavhanke No Stranger to Controversies
Suresh Chavhanke has a history of stirring up controversy. This isn’t the first time he has peddled communally charged narratives against Muslims.
Ironically, Chavhanke’s opposition isn’t against interfaith marriages as a whole - but against Muslim men marrying Hindu women. In fact, earlier this year on 4 September, while addressing a rally in Delhi’s Badarpur, he even urged Muslim women to marry Hindu men rather than Muslim men.
In his speech, he had said, “If you marry a Hindu boy, then that boy won’t do any injustice to you. I promise you if you marry Hindu boys and convert to Hinduism, then you won’t have to face talaq (divorce). And you won’t have to become a baby-making factory or give birth to 40-50 kids.”
Chavhanke has cases pending against him for his hateful speeches, but that hasn’t prevented him from making more of them.
On 4 May 2022, the Delhi Police had registered an FIR against him for administering an oath that swore to make India a Hindu Rashtra, at a December 2021 event in Delhi.
The Delhi Police also registered an FIR naming him in connection to the anti-Muslim hate speeches delivered at a Hindu Mahapanchayat event in Delhi’s Burari on 3 April 2022.
In the past, Chavhanke has also raised the anti-Muslim bogey of ‘UPSC jihad’ on his channel Sudarshan News.
On 15 September 2020, the Supreme Court had ordered that Sudarshan News cannot air any further episodes of editor Suresh Chavhanke's show about 'UPSC Jihad' (or any similar content) till further orders from the court. In its order, the court had said, “At this stage, prima facie, it does appear to the court that the object intended by the broadcast of the show is to vilify the Muslim community. Several statements are palpably erroneous.”
“Any attempt to vilify a community must be viewed with disfavour by this court as a protector of Constitutional values,” Justice Chandrachud had said, while dictating the order.