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Lucknow Police stops interfaith marriage citing new ordinance

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After receiving complaints from a Hindu outfit, Lucknow Police stopped an interfaith wedding in the city, citing the newly passed Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance.

The wedding was supposed to take place on Wednesday in Lucknow’s Para area. However, a police team reached the venue and asked both parties to accompany them to the local police station.

At the police station, both sides were asked to first seek clearance for the marriage from the Lucknow District Magistrate, police said.

“On 2 December, we received information that a girl from one community was getting married to a boy from another community.  We called both sides to the police station and handed them a copy of the new unlawful conversion ordinance. Both sides have given written consent that as per law, they will inform the DM (district magistrate) and get his permission before moving ahead with things,” Suresh Chandra Rawat, a senior Lucknow police officer informed the media.

Marriage with consent

While both the families have not given a statement, sources say the wedding was taking place with the consent and knowledge of both families and there was no coercion involved.

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The families intend to go ahead with the wedding after completing any legal formalities required under law. There was also no intention of either side to convert, family sources have claimed.

New law

As per the Uttar Pradesh Unlawful Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance, religious conversions that use falsehood, force or an incentive, or take place solely for the purpose of marriage have been declared a criminal offence.

Also, those who plan to convert after marriage will have to inform the district magistrate of their intention at least two months in advance.

That’s not all. Forced conversion or conversion through fraud will be punished by up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine of Rs 15,000. If the forced conversion involves a woman from the marginalised communities, then this will increase to between three and 10 years’ jail and a fine of Rs 25,000. Mass conversions will attract a similar jail term and a fine of Rs 50,000.

Notably, the courts have repeatedly upheld the freedom of choice of consenting adults, but several states are taking all possible measures to put an end to religious conversions for the sake of marriage citing it as ‘love jihad’.

 

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