A round-up of news, both bad and good, on the rights front from India.
Fearing riots, Dadri’s Hindu-Muslim couple refused marriage registration
Authorities in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri town have allegedly refused to register the marriage of a Hindu man and a Muslim woman, Manjeet and Salma (now Sapna), fearing a resurgence of last year’s communal tensions sparked by the mob-lynching of 52-year-old Mohammad Ikhlaq over rumours that he had beef in his kitchen, India Today reported. The couple, married at an Arya Samaj temple in October last year, has been trying to make their marriage official for six months.
According to them, they have repeatedly visited government offices and met senior district officers, but no one has helped them. They also say that the marriage registrar who refused to make their marriage official, demanded a bribe of 20,000 rupees.
The district magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar, NP Singh, has promised that the marriage will be registered and asked a senior officer to look into the matter. Claiming that the rule of the land would prevail Singh said, “If both of them are adults then there should not be any problem in registering their marriage. I cannot deny that they were told by a government officer that registering their marriage can ignite communal violence.”
Sapna’s family is against the union and had filed an FIR against Manjeet when they had eloped. The couple adds that no one in their village has a problem with their marriage and residents see them as a symbol of unity.
Priest beats up boy for failing Bible quiz, absconds
A Catholic church priest in Mangaluru was charged with assaulting a boy after he failed to answer questions on the Bible, The Times of India reported. This was during the boy’s first communion catechism class in Our Lady of Fatima Church. Police said the priest was absconding.
The incident occurred on April 12 and a case was registered on April 18. The parents of the 12-year-old boy said parish priest Andrew D’Costa beat the boy repeatedly with a stick after he failed to answer certain Bible-related questions.
Police said the priest was booked under the Juvenile Justice Act and Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code.
Nine out of 10 people who eat beef are from IITs, says Giriraj Singh
“Aaj samaj mein jo bachche gir gaye hain ha, gau maans kha rahein hain. Padhe likhe dus log jo gau maans kha rahein hain unmein se nau IITs ke hain (People who have fallen in society eat beef. Out of 10 educated people who eat beef, nine are from IITs),” said Giriraj Singh, union minister of state for micro and small enterprises, on April 21, according to a Rediff.com report.
This statement came after the minister had already created controversy on April 20 with his statement on the need for a two-child policy in India, saying that otherwise “our daughters will not be safe and will have to wear veils, like in Pakistan”. Giriraj Singh has been called out for a range of sectarian comments in the last two years.
More threats to Kanhaiya Kumar
According to a report in The Hindu, a number of organisations in Mumbai, calling themselves ‘patriotic and devout Hindi organisation,’ held a press conference where they threatened that if JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar travels to the city he may not return in good shape. “This is not an action, but this is a reaction. Those who are indulging in anti-national activities should be stopped and we will do whatever is in our power to do so,” said Sushil Tiwari, national president, Swarajya Hindu Sena.
Another one of the organisations involved was also worried about the “patients” Kumar will see after he gets his doctorate. “We know that he (Kanhaiya Kumar) is pursuing his PhD from JNU and he is threatening to break the nation to pieces. How can a person like him serve the patients who will approach him after he becomes a doctor?” asked Niranjan Pal of the Veer Sena. When Pal was told that Kumar is not studying medicine but history, the leader did not change his stance. “So? He will become a doctor anyway and patients will approach him,” he said.
Kumar is supposed to be speaking at an event in Mumbai on Saturday.
Do you know of any other incident we should highlight in this column? Write to me at [email protected].
If you want to receive regular email updates from this column, subscribe to the Freedom Under Fire newsletter.