An ‘interfaith’ wedding in Lucknow, UP was stopped by city police on Wednesday evening just as the Hindu bride and Muslim groom were to be joined in wedlock. Predictably, the case has caused deep consternation among liberals and reinforced their confirmation bias against the recently promulgated Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.
As per a report, both families of the bride (chemistry postgraduate Raina Gupta, 22) and the groom (pharmacist Mohammad Asif, 24) had given their ‘unconditional consent’ for the marriage. The wedding was reportedly going to be conducted first as per Hindu ritual tradition and later as per Muslim rituals.
Police intervened in the matter based on information provided by the Hindu Mahasabha district president, and stopped the wedding as planned religious ceremonies couldn’t have been conducted without conversion – conversions just for the sake of marriage are prohibited as per the new UP law, and anyone who wishes to convert has to give 2 month notice to the DM (District Magistrate) who is supposed to get the matter probed by police to ascertain that the conversion is genuine.
No FIR was lodged in this case and both families agreed to postpone the wedding till they received the DM’s permission, as mandated by law.
But the liberal angst against this new law is succinctly summed up in this Times View published in TOI:
The case is a perfect example of the absurdity of the new law. In this case, neither the couple nor their families seem to have any objection to the marriage. But under the new law, being an inter-faith marriage, they are bound to give two months notice or be in contravention of the law. Indeed, this effectively means there can be no inter-faith marriage in the state for the next two months. The best way of avoiding such absurdities is to abolish the law.
Let’s put aside the glut of grooming cases that UP and other parts of the country have been witnessing for many years now, where Hindu girls (often minor or barely adult) are trapped by Muslim men using various tactics such as faking a Hindu identity, and then forced into conversion and marriage, or murdered if they resist. The new UP ordinance’s main target is to prevent and punish such exploitative relations (aka grooming or ‘Love Jihad’) and also address the issue of mass conversions by missionary organisations which use bigoted anti-Hindu hate speeches, ‘miracle healing’ and other illegal methods.
In this case, the girl is highly educated and there is no sign of any subterfuge. But when we analyse the matter calmly, we find that the new UP ordinance is advantageous for even such girls and their families. Two twitter threads articulate why this is so.
The first one –
“Let’s dissect this interfaith wedding. Muslim groom and Hindu bride. They apparently agreed to do Hindu rituals first. Here is the problem. A Hindu marriage ceremony is legally valid only between Hindus. Did the man convert to Hindu Dharma? The answer is no. Hence it’s a meaningless ceremony at best.
Now Muslim insist on reciprocity. A nikah is going to be held soon after. But the nikah is a contract that can entered only by a woman of the “book”. So the kafir girl has to convert formally before the nikah. What is now happening is a wedding between Muslims only. NOT inter-faith.
There would’ve been no issues, if they had registered their marriage under Special Marriage Act before these ceremonies or rituals. In that case, these would be mere sentimental rituals without any legal significance. Why didn’t they do that?
What if the girl really wants to convert? That’s her call. But the society and state has the responsibility of informing her of the change in her legal status and rights under Muslim personal law. If it takes a bit of process, it’s OK. It’s meant for her protection. She needs it.”
Here’s the second thread, from Reality Check India (RCI), a social media voice that knows the ins and outs of our distorted legal and socio-political regimes better than most, and who is being criminally under-used in our opinion by the ‘Hindu nationalist’ central government –
“I’ve war-gamed Love Jihad dual-law ‘Idea of India’ (IOA) regime inside-out. The ‘consent’ here needs to be formalized into an informed consent with *explicit waiver of rights*. The mere act of having such a formalism/recordation itself acts as a major check.
The boys parents can put enormous pressure .. “don’t you trust my boy?” etc. The issue is *not* whether the bloke is nice or that he won’t exercise his right to his polygamy or divorce (as per sharia law).. but that *it is possible for him to do so*. The *possibility*, that is the key.
Here the verbal consent of the families is immaterial .. in fact that is ironic that desi feminists want this. The GIRL should be forced to sign an informed consent form to *EXIT* one legal regime to the next. Not needed for SMA (Special Marriage Act).
Normally the girls will think that having both a nikaaah and a shaadi means now they have a balanced secular dream wedding. but the nikaah has switched her rights!! the nikaahnama is a legal document.. that pandit is not. So the girl after switching her legal regime goes through with the Hindu rituals.. it is meaningless. there is nothing in Islamic law that prevents a boy from going round fire etc.”
Despite all liberal screeching and platitude-laden ramblings like the Times View, this is the crux of the matter: when a Hindu woman converts her religion to marry as per Muslim personal law, she enters a legal regime where she is decidedly at a disadvantage. Case after case has shown that even educated Hindu women are clueless about Muslim marriage laws or the orthodoxy that is the norm among Muslim society, as can be seen in this interview of a divorced Hindu nurse who was lured into a relation and abandoned after being impregnated by a Muslim unani doctor who initially pretended to be Hindu. The recent disclosure by Kamalrukh Khan, a Parsi by birth, about her troubled marriage with late music composer Wajid Khan, further points at why counselling non-Muslim women about inter-faith marriages and ensuring they sign an informed consent form is so important.
The UP ordinance should ideally have been welcomed by feminists and liberals, as it offers a much needed check to ensure young women are fully cognisant of the implications of converting for marriage. In fact, by pushing genuine inter-faith couples to marry under Special Marriage Act, the ordinance is safeguarding more women against the sort of exploitation under sharia law that Muslim women rights groups campaigning over triple talaq and Nikah Halala are fighting against. Yet, visceral Hinduphobia has led the very same feminists and liberals to blindly bash the new law.
Moreover, if we are really serious about communal harmony, the minimum age for religious conversion should be raised to 25 (child proselytisation witnessed in convent schools and orphanages should be dealt with harshly), and the right to propagate religion under Article 25 should be curtailed to end the sort of abuse and bigotry seen from organised Christian and Muslim religious groups who openly denigrate Hindu Dharma and other indigenous faiths, and who have started invading Hindu sacred spaces too with their propaganda.
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