Kashif Ahmed Faraz |India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI—Yet another incident of UP police stopping wedding on rumours of so-called “Love Jihad” has come to the fore in Kushinagar district of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, after promulgation of an ordinance-Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020–making marriage between boys and girls of two different faiths difficult.
The latest incident pertains to a marriage between Hyder Ali and Shabeela Khatoon, residents of Kushinagar and Azamgarh districts, respectively. The incident happened on Tuesday.
Based on rumours that a Hindu girl and a Muslim youth were going to marry, a team of police personnel from Kasaya Police Station in Kushinagar district picked up the bride and bridegroom from the wedding site in Gurmioya village under Kushinagar district. Gurmiya is the native village of Hyder Ali.
According to details of the case, Hyder Ali(39), a barber, worked in Mubarakpur town of Azamgarh district. Ali had lost his wife a few years ago. While working in Mubarakpur, he came in contact with 27-year-old Shabeela. As family members of Shabeela were not willing to marry her with Hyder Ali, she escaped clandestinely and went to the village of Hyder Ali for marriage.
When the marriage was to take place in Gurmiya village, village watchmen Mustaqeem Ali, informed some members of the Hindu right wing. Mustaqeem told the Hindu youths that the girl happened to be Hindu without confirming it from Hyder Ali.
Without hours of Mustaqeem making the call, several volunteers of Hindu Yuva Vahini descended on the village and questioned Hyder Ali and Shabeela. Meanwhile, a police team also reached the village and took the couple to police station.
Police did not believe Hyder Ali that the girl was a Muslim. Police kept the girl in another room and tortured the Hyder Ali, asking him to tell the truth. The police stopped beating when he said that the police could take the phone number of the girl’s brother and talk to him.
The police stopped beating Hyder Ali only after Shabeela’s brother told the police Shabeela was his sister and Muslim by faith. They also sent the police photo of her Aadhar card. Police asked Shabeela’s brother to come to police station with her Aadhar card in original. His brother travelled 130 km from Azamgarh to Kushinagar. Hyder and Shabeela were kept at the police station the whole night in chilling winter.
Hyder and Shabeela were released on Wednesday only after Shabeela’s brother told the police that his family had no objection if they wanted to marry. Shabeela also told the police that she did not want to go with her family but wanted to marry Hyder.
It was after this that Hyder and Shabeela were allowed to go on Wednesday and marry.
Speaking to India Tomorrow Sanjay Kumar, SHO of Kasaya Police Station, said that the police took action in the matter owing to sensitivity of the case after receiving information that a Hindu girl was going to marry a Muslim boy without taking prior permission from the authorities. “However, later it turned out that both were from the same community and were allowed to go”, he said.
Kumar blamed the mischievous elements for spreading rumours of ‘Love Jihad’. He denied that Hyder Ali was beaten up at the Police Station.
Well-known activist and Congress leader Sadaf Jafar, speaking to India Tomorrow, said, the ordinance was in violation of the constitutional provisions guaranteeing freedom of religion. “The Constitution of India gives freedom to adult individuals to marry any one of their own choice, irrespective of religion. Even if it involved conversion, Constitution allows it as the Constitution permits to follow and practice a religion of one’s own choice. Hence, what the government is doing, amounts to interference in personal lives and violation of Constitutional provisions. If the issue is forced conversion, laws already exist in the Indian Penal Code for such crimes”, she said.