Police arrested a Muslim man and his brother under Uttar Pradesh’s new anti-conversion law when he visited the registrar’s office to record his marriage to a Hindu woman. A video clip purportedly showed Bajrang Dal activists asking the couple if the woman had given notice to the local district magistrate over her intention to change her religion, a requirement under the new UP ordinance.
Kanth station house officer Ajay Gautam said the two men were arrested Friday on the basis of a complaint by the woman’s parents. The woman said she is an adult and married the man a few months ago of her free will. It was not immediately known whether she also changed her religion.
According to reports, Moradabad man Rashid had met the woman from Bijnore when he was working in Dehradun where she was studying. Police reached the registrar’s office after being approached by Bajrang Dal activists. The two men were then produced before a magistrate and sent to prison.
SHO Kanth said it was now up to the court to decide the case. The recently promulgated Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 nullifies marriages if they are carried out for the sole purpose of religious conversion.
The punishment can extend up to 10 years if a minor is involved. In recent cases, police in UP have arrested seven people in Sitapur and stopped an interfaith marriage in Lucknow, citing the new law to check forcible and fraudulent conversions.
Though the term doesn’t figure in the ordinance, it was promulgated amid assertions by BJP leaders that a strict law was needed against love jihad, a reference to right-wing claims that Hindu women are being lured or forced into marriages performed only for their conversion.
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