A Muslim man and his brother were released on Saturday (December 19) after being arrested and jailed under the Uttar Pradesh’s new “love jihad law” after a court ordered they be freed.
They had spent almost two weeks in prison in Moradabad district. According to sources, the UP police were unable to furnish any evidence of the alleged forced conversion against them.
The man was arrested along with his brother under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, passed by the Yogi Adityanath government, after he tried to get his marriage registered with a 22-year-old Hindu woman in Kanth, Moradabad.
After his release, the man said: “What can I say. We married with consent. I spent 15 days in jail. I am very happy today.” He made no comment on whether the police misused the new law.
Following the arrest, the man’s wife, who was pregnant at the time, was taken to a shelter by the Moradabad police but was later released by the magistrate. At the shelter, she was allegedly given an injection “to induce miscarriage” — this has been denied by the government doctors and the police. She was reportedly hospitalised twice following complaints of stomachache, bleeding, and spotting.
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The woman said she married out of her free will. The couple got married in July, before the new law was promulgated. The woman had told the media: “I am an adult, I am 22 years old. I got married of my own free will on the 24th of July. This is the fifth month that we have been married.”
However, a Bajrang Dal group accosted the man, his brother and the woman at the marriage registration office and stopped them from registering their marriage.
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In a video that went viral, Bajrang Dal men were seen harassing the woman, asking: “Show us the permission you have from the DM (District Magistrate) to convert your religion.” The men went on to ask her if she had “read the new law or not?” and further heckled her with: “The law had to be made for people like you.”
The law forbids any conversion by “misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, or by any fraudulent means or by marriage,” adding that marriages done “for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion or vice versa” is prohibited. In case of conversion, permission from the District Magistrate within two months is required.
Opposers of the law have criticised it as unconstitutional that threatens fundamental rights.