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Love Jihad Law: Miya-Biwi Raazi, But Marriage is Not So Easy in UP

Instead of preventing forced conversions, is the Love Jihad law being enforced to stop inter-faith marriages?

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Video Producer: Hera Khan
Video Editor: Kunal Mehra/Purnendu Pritam

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(This story was first published on 11 December 2020, and is being republished from The Quint's archives to mark one year since the anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh came into effect.)

'Miya biwi raazi to kya karega kazi' – this old proverb does not seem to hold true in Uttar Pradesh anymore. That's because 'Love Jihad' law is stopping marriages in UP.

The situation is such that lovers belonging to two different religions are ready to marry, the family is ready, mehndi has been set, but the wedding is being stopped either because of threats from Hindu organisations or the arrest of the groom before the marriage registration.

The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet on Tuesday, 24 November, cleared its controversial proposed ordinance – ostensibly on unlawful conversions, but promoted recently by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and others to tackle what it and other BJP-ruled states have called ‘love jihad’. The guilty can be sentenced for up to 10 years.

Now, under the guise of this law, couples with inter-faith marriages are being harassed, intimidated, even being sent to jail in old cases.

In Lucknow, UP Police stopped an inter-faith marriage, that was taking place with the consent of the families, citing the new law. The police asked the couple to get permission from the Lucknow District Magistrate.

Not only this, the police gave a copy of the new law to the families of the groom and bride and told them that the marriage has been stopped according to Section 3 and 8 (section 2) of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversions of Religious Ordinance, 2020, which states that no one should be converted by misrepresentation, allurement, force, any fraudulent means, or by marriage.

However, in this case neither the boy nor the girl had converted.

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In another incident in Moradabad, some people threatened a husband and wife by citing love jihad and the police arrested the husband and his brother.

The girl later confirmed that she was 22-year-old and married at her own will.

In Bareilly, UP police made the first arrest under the new anti-conversion law. They arrested Owais Ahmed, a 21-year-old Muslim on 3 December 2020 allegedly for forcing a Hindu woman to convert to Islam and threatening her family for opposing.

The Uttar Pradesh government had cited a ruling of the Allahabad High Court to bring a law against Love Jihad. In September, a single-judge bench of the HC had said that conversion of religion for marriage cannot be recognised. But on 11 November, in the Priyanka-Salamat case, a bench of two judges in the same Allahabad High Court overruled the judgment by saying:

“Neither any individual nor a family or even State can have objections to relationship of two major individuals who, out of their own free will, are living together.”

Instead of preventing forced conversions, is the Love Jihad law being enforced in UP to stop marriages of people from two different religions?

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