The campaign against alleged `love jihad’ conspiracy has taken its toll on a marriage involving a Christian boy and a Hindu girl in Jobat town of tribal-dominated Alirajpur district in Madhya Pradesh.
Joseph Pawar and Ayushi Wani who eloped and married in an Arya Samaj temple in Bhopal four days ago were traced by the police to Pawagarh in Gujarat after Hindu Jagaran Manch (HJM) and other right-wing organizations threatened to launch a massive agitation.
The town observed a complete bandh on Wednesday the day the superintendent of police met the two families separately in his office as hundreds of right-wing activists assembled in the premises.
Ayushi, 19, told Alirajpur SP Akhilesh Jha that she loved Josesh, a nursing college student and that she went with him on her own. She refused to return to her parents and was later sent to Nari Niketan in Ujjain.
The activists wanted Joseph booked for luring Ayushi into marriage but the police said no case could be made against him because she was a major and gave a statement that she loved him. Joseph was escorted to Indore under police protection after the police told him that he would not be safe given that tempers were running high.
The police declared the marriage invalid saying Joseph is not a Hindu and that he will have to convert to Hinduism by following the procedure laid in the Freedom of Religion Act, which says the potential convert and those presiding over the ceremony should notify the district magistrate a month in advance.
Jha told The Indian Express that he did what appeared best in the circumstances given that 300-400 activists had gheraoed his office and the threat of arson and damage to government property was looming large. “There are some plus and minus points when an administrator takes a decision in such matters.’’
Joseph tried to argue that the marriage in Arya Samaj temple was done following Hindu rituals.
Ayushi’s family had filed a complaint on September 26 when she did not return home from college. Hindu activists threatened to take to the streets when it was revealed that she had eloped with a Christian boy and gave the police time till September 30 to trace and bring the couple back to Jobat.
The police claimed they used their network to find that after the marriage on September 28 the couple went to Pavagarh from where the two were brought to Jobat on October 1.
The SP said situation had returned to normal on Thursday but that it was not safe for Joseph to return. “It’s possible that he could apply for converting his faith,’’ he said.