Nearly two years ago, when his then 26-year-old daughter told him about her plans to marry her Muslim friend, a Ghaziabad-based businessman was against the match. “Considering the present environment in the country, my concern was about the children’s safety. The same concerns were shared by his family members,” he said.
On Friday afternoon, the marriage took place under the Special Marriage Act in Ghaziabad — with the consent of both the families.
Suspecting problems, the businessman had informed the district administration about the event — a reception and lunch in Kavi Nagar. A series of precautions — not hosting the wedding reception in a commercial space, not doing a nikaah or a wedding as per Hindu rituals, a limited guest list which had around 50 people, ensuring that no one at the wedding reception wears any religious symbol and making sure the newly-weds left Ghaziabad for their ‘honeymoon’ soon after — were taken, the family said.
But despite all the security measures, a mob — comprising local BJP leaders and members of other right-wing groups — gathered outside shouting slogans against what they believed to be a case of “love jihad”. The mob maintained that they “will not let any topi wala enter”.
The protests, however, did not come as a surprise for the bride’s father who had started receiving “threatening” phone calls a few days before the wedding.
“Some people called me and said that what I am doing is wrong. They told me that I was a Hindu and asked me how I could marry my daughter to a Muslim. I was told that I was acting against the Hindu religion. I told them that it was my private and personal affair and that I did not like their interference. Religion comes later, humanity comes first and if I like a person, I do not look at whether that person is a Hindu or a Muslim,” he said.
“A few of them came to me in a small group but they were aggressive and said that I was damaging the Hindu community. I asked them to leave the venue and told them it was not their business,” he said.
For more than a month, both the families had been taking measures to ensure that “no harm comes to the children and guests,” he added.
The father also said, “It felt like I am in a conflict zone where any one thinks they can forcefully enter someone’s home, and say anything. If this can happen in Delhi-NCR, then what about others who live in smaller cities, towns and villages?”
Two FIRs were registered under IPC section 147 (rioting), 342 (wrongful confinement), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace), 452 (trespassing) and 507 (criminal intimidation). One FIR was lodged following a complaint by the woman’s father, and the second FIR has been lodged by the police.