After declaring a marriage between a Christian man and a Hindu girl invalid, the local administration in Jobat, Alirajpur, has refused permission to the minority community to hold an annual gathering on the ground that it was likely to “disturb peace”.
The four-day gathering organized by All India United Christian Front (AIUF) and Moksha Foundation (MF) was supposed to start from Monday at an agricultural field which is two kilometers away from Jobat town.
The town earlier saw protests by right-wing organizations after a Christian man married a Hindu girl.
The police administration had declared as invalid the marriage between Joseph Pawar and Ayushi Wani, both major, who tied the knot at an Arya Samaj temple in Bhopal.
The 5th Massihi Atmik Jagruti Sabha had been planned in advance but the administration first cancelled the permission on September 30 after Hindu organizations threatened to begin an indefinite protest from October 1 till the couple was not traced and the woman restored to her parents.
While denying the permission, SDM (Jobat) Sharda Chouhan in a letter to Kapil Sharma, who is founder of MF and state head of AIUF said if the meet was held “Wani Samaj and Hindu Sangathan(s) could commit some cognizable offence.” The SDM quoted an input by the in-charge of the Jobat Police Station behind the refusal.
The couple was traced and brought to Jobat on October 1, the day Hindu organizations enforced a complete bandh but withdrew the call for indefinite protest. Ayushi told the administration that she loved Joseph and refused to go back to her parents. While she was sent to Nari Niketan in Ujjain, Joseph was escorted to Indore.
Thinking that the matter had been resolved, Sharma again wrote to the SDM seeking fresh permission for the meet. He said invites had been sent to followers weeks in advance and it would be difficult to stop them from coming to Jobat.
Sharma told The Indian Express that on Sunday he got a call from the SDM to convey the administration’s decision that the permission for the meet remained cancelled because the atmosphere was still charged.
Chouhan informed that the ‘mahaul’ was not conducive for the gathering of Christians and that the permission had been denied because it could have become a law and order issue. “What if something goes wrong? Then we will be blamed for having allowed the meet to take place” she said adding tempers were still running high. She said the venue (agriculture field) suggested the meet was planned at a larger scale.
Sharma said that he would challenge the denial of permission in a court of law because the minority community’s constitutional right was being violated.
Fr Anand Muttungal of Isai Mahasangh slammed the Alirajpur administration saying security concern was an excuse. “How could permission be refused for a peaceful meet that could have taken place inside a church,” he asked dubbing the cancellation as “deliberate”.
Refusing the allegation by right-wing organizations that people are converted during the annual meet, Sharma’s letter to the SDM said “no one has been converted in the last four meets and no one will be converted in future.”