Two days after the Karelibaug police in Vadodara sent an interfaith couple who sought protection to their respective families, BJP leaders, including an MP and an MLA, on Friday told the woman to “rethink” her marriage, even as party MLA Shailesh Mehta alias Sotta of Dabhoi assembly consituency wrote a letter to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani demanding a law in Gujarat against “love Jihad”.
Over Thursday and Friday, several BJP leaders, including MP Ranjan Bhatt, MLA Seema Mohile, party’s city president Dr Vijay Shah and former mayor Sunil Solanki met the 23-year-old woman to “counsel” her about the pros and cons of the marriage to a Muslim man from her neighbourhood, also aged 23.
Bhatt, told this newspaper, “The girl is extremely disturbed but she is opening up now and beginning to understand the importance of what everyone is trying to tell her. Their decision to elope and marry is not good for both of them. They are college dropouts and have only completed HSC. Neither of them has a stable income. As elders, we are advising her to think of practical life. Their marriage will not last more than a few months once reality strikes.”
Bhatt said that she visited the woman “as a leader of the Brahma Samaj and not as a BJP leader”. “She is the daughter of a Samaj member and being a leader here, it was my duty to meet her and make her understand. She has been in a relationship with this boy for about six years, which means she was barely 17 when it started. She lost her mother around the same time and there was no one to turn to for advice.”
Her father, who works for a local company, has taken ill since the incident and refused to comment. The boy’s father told this paper on Friday that he was unaware that the two had decided to go to Mumbai and marry at a masjid.
According to Bhatt, “When they arrived from Mumbai a few days ago, they were warmly received at the boy’s house, the girl has said. Thereafter, they went to rent an apartment in Tandalja area of the city but signed the deal in her Hindu name, although she had already converted and taken a new name. She was not able to explain why the boy wanted her to use her Hindu name.”
Bhatt said, “We just wish good for both the children. They are not mature enough to take such a decision. So we are trying to counsel the girl to agree to seek an annulment and build her life.”
Meanwhile, Mehta’s letter to Rupani for a “love jihad” law like in Uttar Pradesh, citied the rising number of cases of “Hindu girls being lured by a particular minority community” and the December 16 incident in Vadodara where police intervened to ensure law and order after the interfaith couple who allegedly eloped and got married, returned home.
Referring to the Vadodara incident, Mehta said, “In this case, both the girl and the boy are residents of Vadodara. The boy belongs to the minority community while the girl is a Hindu Brahmin. They first tried to marry in Chhota Udepur but because a notice raising objection on religious conversion was put up at the family’s door, they aborted the plan and went to Maharashtra…”
“There are many such cases, where religious conversion in the name of marriage is taking place outside Gujarat although the couple belongs to Gujarat,” he added.
Mehta is also the vice-president of the India chapter of World Brahmin Federation and has faced an inquiry by the Election Commission for “hateful speeches” during his 2017 assembly election campaign in Dabhoi constituency.
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