The Muslim youth whose wedding to a Hindu neighbour was stopped in Lucknow’s Duda Colony by the police under the new anti-conversion law said neither of them planned to convert. Pointing out that the two had known each other for five years, the mother of the woman said the marriage had their sanction and nobody could stop it.
The families also said the wedding was planned before the law came into force, on November 28, and they would have sought permission if they knew it was required.
The groom, who works as a pharmacist, told The Indian Express, “There is no question of conversion… no discussion about conversation… because I feel that if two of us love each other, we can accept each other for who we are. If she is a Hindu, I can accept her religion and identity, and she agreed to do the same.” The woman was not at home.
The police had stopped the ceremony, being held as per Hindu rituals, on Wednesday night, on a complaint by the Hindu outfit Rashtriya Yuva Vahini, though no case has been filed. While the groom is 24, the bride is 22, and the two are neighbours. The 24-year-old said they were planning to hold both Muslim and Hindu rituals, and neither of them was converting. The police earlier said all they wanted was for the two to follow the norms of the new law and that “there was no offence”.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Friday at the house of the groom, the mother of the woman said, “It is no one’s business whom my daughter gets married to. We have lived in a mixed colony all our lives and have been friends with Muslims. Then, why can’t my daughter get married to a Muslim? He does not want her to convert either… I don’t know who complained to the police or if they acted on their own.”
The woman’s mother works as a cook; her father is a driver.
The groom said, “The two of us know each other, we like each other. I would not even call this a love marriage, both families had agreed and it was more an arranged marriage. I asked for her hand from her mother a year ago. I was sure that I would not marry her if her family didn’t agree.” His father was a rickshaw puller but is too old now; his mother died a few years back.
The wedding date had been fixed two months ago, the families said. “If we had known about the new law, we would have sought permission and this embarrassment could have been avoided,” the mother of the woman said. The groom said he was ready to apply to the district administration and wait as long as it takes. “There is no hurry, I will get married according to the rules and regulations.”
Under the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, anyone wanting to convert to another religion has to seek permission from the District Magistrate at least two months in advance. Any “wrongful” conversion entails punishment under the law.
The groom added that they were open to marrying under the Special Marriage Act, which allows for a ceremony without any change of religion.
Recalling the wedding day, the mother of the woman said, “She had got ready, been to the beauty parlour. Then, all this happened. It was hard, but she is fine now.” She added they were not worried about the financial losses. “Eventually what matters is my daughter’s happiness… What if we had not allowed them to get married and they had eloped?”
Para Police Station SHO Triloki Singh earlier told The Indian Express that they intervened following a complaint by some Rashtriya Yuva Vahini representatives. “We told the families that under the new law, you can only get married if you have notified the DM for the specified time. We told them that it should not seem that there is pressure to convert,” he said.
Lucknow DCP (South) Ravi Kumar said the families had been provided a copy of the new law. “They have given in writing that they will seek permission from the DM. No offence has been committed and we have not lodged a case,” said Kumar.
Rashtriya Yuva Vahini national president K D Sharma said their outfit’s minority cell state chief, Yasir Khan, had lodged the complaint. Sharma lives less than a kilometre from where the couple stay. “I called up the SHO as well and told him to take necessary action… We are not against the marriage, but we want the new law to be followed,” Sharma said, claiming he had got a call from the national president of the Hindu Mahasabha too regarding the wedding.
Advocate Mukteshwar Mishra said if the couple did not intend to convert, the new law could not apply to them. “In case they intend to marry, they have to get their marriage solemnised under the Special Marriage Act. This will ensure that the provisions of the new Ordinance, which deals with illegal conversions, will not apply in their marriage. But both of them have to continue practising their respective religions,” Mishra said.
The families said they didn’t want any “jhanjhat”. “We are simple people. We somehow manage with what we make… When we get permission, the wedding will happen. If we don’t, then we will see what to do. However, we don’t see any reason for the administration denying us permission,” said the groom’s brother.