Pyaar Ke Dushman: After Parents, Looks Like Now Interfaith Couples Need the Blessings of Authorities

Social Commentary

Pyaar Ke Dushman: After Parents, Looks Like Now Interfaith Couples Need the Blessings of Authorities

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

The Uttar Pradesh government’s controversial ordinance against religious conversion, which has come to be known as the “love jihad” law, was criticised since its inception for its potential for misuse. Now, in the state capital of Lucknow, police arriving at the wedding of a Hindu bride to a Muslim groom and halting the rituals has illustrated how the new law can be misused. It allows the state to come between the union of two consenting adults solely because they belong to different religions. Despite both families having given full consent to the marriage, the police halted the ceremony and asked the couple to first seek permission for the wedding from the Lucknow District Magistrate.

Marrying the person of one’s choice is a right guaranteed to every citizen of India under the Constitution, something reiterated by our courts time and again. But in a country where love marriages are an exception rather than the norm, every Indian kid knows that parental approval of their life partner is not something to be taken for granted, especially if they are from outside the community. Now, the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Ordinance, 2020 has made it so that even if an interfaith couple were to get that elusive stamp of approval from their parents, they must now jump through the additional hoop of getting the nod from state authorities as well.

Despite its stated purpose of curbing forced conversions, the UP government’s “love jihad” law is a tool for exploitation when it comes to harassing interfaith couples. In this case, the police arrived at the wedding venue in Lucknow after receiving a tip-off from the leader of a Hindutva organisation. An objection from somebody not connected to either family has caused all the preparation for the wedding ceremony to be in vain, highlighting how the “love jihad” law could impact even those interfaith couples whose families are on-board with their decision to tie the knot.

Having been brought into effect only last month, UP’s “love jihad” law is already fuelling controversy across the country, as a once proudly diverse India reacts to a strange new take on interfaith relations.