Fearing 'Love Jihad' Allegations, Interfaith Couple Flees UP, Seeks Protection in Delhi

The Delhi government has told the high court that the couple will be provided with a safe house and police security, if required.

New Delhi: An interfaith couple who fled from Uttar Pradesh’s Shajahanpur in late November, fearing that they would be harassed by their families and the police for choosing a partner from another religion, applied for the registration of their marriage under the Special Marriage Act after the Delhi government said in court that the couple would be provided with a safe house and police security, if required.

Shameem (25) and Simran (21) had petitioned the Delhi high court on December 16, seeking protection from their families as well as the Uttar Pradesh police, Indian Express reported. The couple also asked the court to say that should the UP police register a case, they would not be taken out of the Delhi high court’s jurisdiction without prior permission.

The court did not allow this plea, saying it was based on speculation. Justice Anu Malhotra said on Wednesday that the prayers “are in the realm of speculation” and “no such orders in relation thereto can be granted presently”, according to the Indian Express.

The couple fled Shahjahanpur in November because Simran’s parents were forcing her to marry someone else. “The new law [UP’s ‘anti-conversion’ ordinance] is a problem for interfaith couples. That was one of the reasons we left Shahjahanpur,” Shameem told Indian Express. “Agar wahan se karte, toh love jihad keh dete (if we had married there, they would have called it love jihad)… even if I wasn’t being forced into marriage, they would have said that because I am with a Muslim boy. In UP, they do this deliberately to trap the man,” Simran added.

Also read: UP ‘Love Jihad’ Arrest: Private Lab Confirms Miscarriage of 22-Year-Old Woman

On arriving in Delhi, the two contacted an NGO that helped them file their legal plea. The couple said they plan to get married under the Special Marriage Act, without either of them converting religions.

Shameem and Simran’s fears regarding how their relationship would be viewed in Uttar Pradesh are not unwarranted.

In recent months, BJP-run states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have revealed plans to enact laws to counter “love jihad” – a term coined by Sangh parivar outfits to describe an imaginary Muslim conspiracy to convert unsuspecting Hindu women to Islam.

Uttar Pradesh, which has a significant Muslim population, has been first to pass an ordinance or an executive order to tackle  ‘love jihad’. According to the ordinance, a marriage will be declared null and void if a woman converts into a religion solely for marriage. Those wishing to change their religion after their wedding would need to apply to the district magistrate a month in advance.

Also read: ‘Attack on Secular Fabric’: CJP Files PIL in Top Court Against ‘Love Jihad’ Laws

The state’s cabinet approved the ordinance even though on November 11, the Allahabad high court denounced a judgment by a single-judge bench that chief minister Yogi Adityanath had openly cited as proof that his crusade against ‘love jihad’ had merit.

As several experts and analysts have pointed out, the law is framed in vague language and appears to be intended for the harassment of interfaith couples, rather than serious worries about ‘forced conversion’. According to The Hindu, as many as 11 FIRs have already been filed under the new law, and at least 34 people arrested.