The administration in Jobat, Alirajpur, that recently declared marriage between a Christian man and a Hindu girl invalid has now refused permission for an annual Christian gathering saying it was likely to “disturb peace”.
The four-day ‘Massihi Atmik Jagruti Sabha’, organised by the All India United Christian Front (AIUCF) and Moksha Foundation (MF), was to begin on Monday at an agricultural field 2 km from Jobat town, which had seen protests by right-wing organisations over the wedding of Joseph Pawar and Ayushi Wani, both major. The Sabha has been organised for four years now at the same venue without any trouble.
In a letter to MF founder and AIUCF state head Kapil Sharma denying permission, SDM (Jobat) Sharda Chouhan said that if the meeting was held, “Wani Samaj and Hindu Sangathan(s) could commit some cognisable offence”. The SDM quoted an input by the in-charge of the Jobat Police Station in this regard.
The administration first told the Sabha it couldn’t be given permission on September 30, after Hindu organisations threatened to begin an indefinite protest from October 1 till Pawar and Wani were traced and Wani sent back to her parents.
The couple were found promptly and brought to Jorbat on October 1, following which the threatened bandh was called off. On October 2, the police declared the marriage between Pawar and Wani, who had tied the knot at an Arya Samaj temple in Bhopal, invalid. Wani refused to go to her parents saying she loved Pawar, and was sent to a Nari Niketan in Ujjain. Pawar was escorted to Indore.
Thinking that the matter had been resolved, the AIUCF wrote to the SDM seeking fresh permission for the meeting again. He said invites had been sent to followers weeks in advance and it would be difficult to stop them from coming to Jobat. Refuting the allegation by right-wing organisations that people were converted during the annual meet, Sharma also told the SDM that no one had been converted in the last four meetings and no one would be converted in the future.
Sharma told The Indian Express that on Sunday he got a call from the SDM conveying the decision to deny permission for the meeting stood because the atmosphere was still charged.
Chouhan admitted the same to The Indian Express, saying tempers were still running high and they feared a law and order issue.
“What if something goes wrong? Then we will be blamed for having allowed the meeting,” she said. The SDM added that the fact that a field was the venue suggested the meeting would be on a big scale.
Sharma said they would go to court as the rights of a minority community were being violated. Fr Anand Muttungal of Isai Mahasangh said the concern about security was an excuse. “How can permission be refused for a peaceful meet that could have taken place inside a church?” he said.