THE MANDLA district administration has ordered a probe into a nikah between a tribal woman and a Muslim man at a government mass marriage event after the VHP objected to it alleging that it amounts to illegal conversion. Saraswati Shivram, 22, and Saddam Sikandar Hussain, 23, both from Mandla town, were among 1001 couples who got married on April 26 at Mandla at the end of a three-day Adi Utsava, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the first day. Under the Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojana and Mukhymantri Nikah Yojana, marriages and nikahs are performed at the same venue.
VHP leader Awadhesh Singh told The Indian Express that the nikah was illegal because the woman had not converted to Islam. He said she had not even initiated the process under the state’s Freedom of Religion Act. He alleged many Muslim youths were marrying tribal girls in Mandla, Dindori and other tribal-dominated districts but the administration was doing little about it.
CEO of Mandla District panchayat S S Rawat said the couple was living together since February. He said the woman’s father was unhappy about the marriage but decided not to interfere after she insisted. He said before leaving her father’s house she had given an affidavit to him that she would not stake claim to his property.
The couple had given an application in the district collector’s office early this year to marry under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, but later sought to withdraw the application. An additional collector rejected their application for marriage in February saying the woman did not appear to be mentally stable.
Rawat said a month later, Saraswati registered herself for marriage under the kanyadaan yojana and mentioned Saddam’s name. He said the application was not rejected because rules for kanyadan scheme are silent on religion. However, on April 26, instead of kanyadaan scheme the couple chose nikah. He said a probe had been ordered and the nikah could be cancelled.