Muslims targeted under India's 'love jihad' law

Police begin crack down on interfaith marriage ceremonies, arrest 10 Muslim men

News Desk December 14, 2020
Indian muslims offer prayers at Jama Masjid in New Delhi. PHOTO: AFP

Police in India have begun cracking down on interfaith marriage ceremonies and arrested at least 10 Muslim men under a law that prohibits forced religious conversions, reported The Guardian.

In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, police are disrupting marriages between Muslims and Hindus and arresting Muslim men under new laws prohibiting so-called "love jihad".

A Hindu right-wing conspiracy theory, "love jihad" perpetuates that Muslim men lure Hindu women into marriage in order to force them to convert to Islam. The central government admitted that it has no official records of any incidents of the practice. However, this theory has been used to justify legislation enacted in Uttar Pradesh and is proposed in four other Indian states.

Earlier this week, a marriage between two Muslims was raided by police in Uttar Pradesh' Kushinagar. The police were tipped off by a Hindu right-wing group.

The police arrested Haider Ali and kept him in custody overnight and tortured him for hours using a leather belt. After the family proved that the bride was Muslim by birth, Ali was released.

The crackdown has fuelled fears that Muslims are being targeted. Under this law, no Hindus have been arrested.

A day after the law was enacted in December, police in Luckdown raided a ceremony between a Hindu woman, Raina Gupta and a Muslim man, Mohammad Asif. The wedding ceremony was to include both Hindu and Muslim rituals and the families said neither was going to convert their religion. However, police halted the wedding and prevented the families from going ahead.

Similarly, a Muslim man, Owais Ahmad, was arrested and sentenced to 14 days judicial custody for allegedly trying to pressure a Muslim woman into converting to Islam and eloping in 2019. The woman is married to a Hindu man now and Ahmad said he had "no link with the woman".

A 27-year-old Muslim man Rashid and his brother were arrested after attempting to register Rashid's marriage to a 22-year-old Hindu woman, Muskan Jahan, who had converted to Islam before the wedding.

When they visited a lawyer, they were surrounded by members of a right-wing Hindu group called Bajrang Dal, who forced them to a police station.

Rashid is in prison on charges of forcible conversion of his wife, and Jahan was taken to a shelter. She denied any coercion and said, "I am an adult. I am 22 years old. I got married of my own free will."


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