New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh police arrested a man and his brother in Moradabad on Saturday under the new anti-conversion law after he tried to get his marriage to a Hindu woman registered.
According to an NDTV report, at the marriage registration office in Moradabad’s Kanth area, members of the Bajrang Dal prevented the three from proceeding with formalities outside the marriage registration office and took them to the local police station.
In a video of the incident, which has been circulated on social media, men from the right-wing outfit can be seen surrounding the 22-year-old woman inside the premises of the Kanth police station.
“Show us the permission you have from the DM (district magistrate) to convert your religion,” one of the men can be seen telling the woman.
“Have you read the new law or not?” another man said and added, “Ye tum jaise logon ke liye banana pada hai (the law had to be made for people like you)”.
The woman told reporters that her marriage to the man was consensual. “I am an adult, I am 22 years old. I got married of my own free will on the 24th of July. This is the fifth month that we have been married,” the woman, who is from Bijnore, said and added that she had been friends with the man for two years.
The two had been staying in Kanth, from where the man hails, for the past few months, she said, reported The Hindu. It was not clear if the woman or the man had changed their religion.
The police have claimed that the FIR was lodged on the basis of a complaint filed by the woman’s mother. In her complaint, the mother alleged that the man tricked her daughter into marriage and converted her on the pretext of getting her a job.
Regarding the woman’s claims that her marriage was consensual, the Kanth station house officer Ajay Gautam said, “all things will come out during the probe” and added, “She will get an opportunity to say what she wants in court.”
“We have arrested both men and will investigate the case thoroughly,” Vidya Sagar, a senior police official said.
Members of the right-wing group, speaking to local media, said that they reached the Kanth tehsil office after receiving inputs that a Hindu woman from Dehradun had come with a Muslim man for conversion and court marriage. “When I arrived with my workers, they (the couple) had left the tehsil premises. We chased them and caught hold of them near a Ravidas temple,” a leader said, according to the national daily.
The arrested men have been booked under Section 3 of the recently promulgated Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020. As per the ordinance, the two men could face between 1-5 years in prison if the charges against them hold in a court.
The case is the fifth to be lodged in Uttar Pradesh since the anti-conversion ordinance became a law a week ago. A few days ago, a 21-year-old man was arrested in Bareilly under the love jihad’ legislation while seven persons were arrested and eight booked in Sitapur, while 14 persons were booked in Mau and two charged in Muzaffarnagar.
In recent weeks, 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.
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.
The BJP-led government in Madhya Pradesh has also said that it is proposing a jail term of ten years for anyone found guilty of using marriage to force someone to change religion.