Now Muslim Wedding Stopped, Groom “Beaten Up” by Cops. Do We Need More Proof of How the “Love Jihad” Law Can Be Misused?

Social Commentary

Now Muslim Wedding Stopped, Groom “Beaten Up” by Cops. Do We Need More Proof of How the “Love Jihad” Law Can Be Misused?

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 is not even a month old, yet the UP government’s new “love jihad” law has already been at the heart of multiple controversies. In the latest incident to emanate from the North Indian state, police stopped a wedding in UP’s Kushinagar and held the couple at the police station, only letting them go the next day when they found out that both the bride and groom were in fact Muslim. The 39-year-old man has also alleged to The Indian Express that he was beaten by cops at Kasya Police Station where the couple was held.

In this case, the couple had to go to extraordinary lengths to get the police to accept that they were both Muslim, and there was no forced conversion taking place for the marriage. Reports state the couple was only released after the woman’s family was contacted, a copy of her Aadhaar card was shared, and her brother arrived physically at the police station to confirm that her family had no objection to her marriage. The woman in question is 28 years old, and there is no law that requires an adult to obtain consent of their family before marriage. Yet, the fact that this took place shows how much scope for misuse there is in the UP government’s new “love jihad” law.

Arrests have already been made in five cases under the new ordinance, and the blunder by the police in Kushinagar marks yet another time that it has interrupted what should be a lawful union. Last week, police in Moradabad arrested a Muslim man and his brother, five months after his wedding, despite his wife’s declaration that she had married him of her own will.

Before that, police in Lucknow stopped the wedding of a Muslim groom to a Hindu bride and ordered them to seek the District Magistrate’s permission to proceed.

The law, which has been widely criticised, is full of loopholes and many believe it is just another excuse to target Muslims.

With every new controversy, the flaws and biases in the UP government’s ordinance become more glaring. Still, several other BJP-ruled states, like Madhya Pradesh, Assam, and Haryana, are also considering drafting similar laws.