The police in Madhya Pradesh have declared a marriage between a Christian man and a Hindu woman invalid, after protests by right-wing groups.
Joseph Pawar, who is in his 20s, and Ayushi Wani, 19, reportedly eloped and married at an Arya Samaj temple in Bhopal on September 28. They were traced by the police to Pavagadh in Gujarat after the girl’s parents filed a complaint and the Hindu Jagran Manch and other right-wing organisations threatened to launch an agitation. The two hail from Jobat town in tribal-dominated Alirajpur district.
Read more here –Christian Weds Hindu Police declare marriage invalid
We are deeply concerned over the growing intolerance and the right wing attacks on inter religious marriages in the country and in Madhya Pradesh. What is more alarming is the response of the state administration, which instead of defending the constitutional rights of adult citizens is giving way to right wing patriarchy and subscribing to fascism.
In the recent case of a young couple who eloped in your district the police has taken action that goes against the very tenets of our Constitution. The couple in question comprise a young Christian boy and a Hindu girl who got married at an Arya Samaj Mandir. The girl’s family have alleged harassment and filed a case. When the young couple was found, the girl clearly stated that she had left her home to be with the person she loved out of her own free will and did not wish to return to her parents. But because a Hindu right wing mob had surrounded the thana the SP bowing to them declared the marriage invalid, since the boy had not converted and suggested that if the marriage was to be valid the boy had the option of converting. The girl was sent to Nari Nikentan. The boy was sent back to his home under police protection.
It is bad enough that right wing religious groups are moral policing couples and dictating the choice of who one can fall in love with, but what is more disturbing is that the district administration is toeing their line in the name of maintaining law and order. The administration must take action against caste groups, in particular the Vani Community who raised the threat of communal violence in the wake of this incidence and ensure protection for all. This case in particular should be deemed as an atrocity by Vani community under POA Act 1989.
It is the duty of the police to protect the rights of individuals. It should have ensured the couple’s safety and their right as consenting adults, and guided them to marry under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 if they still wished to get married.
This case is very similar to the honour killings in Haryana and Punjab where the High Court way back in 2010 asked the two state governments to provide shelter to boys and girls marrying out of caste.
We demand that you follow this lead without a court order and contain tempers and fury generated by vested interests against inter-religious marriages and start a shelter for such couples who are facing this threat.
1. Release of the girl from Nari Niketan
2. Safe shelter for the couple.
3. Booking a case under POA Act against the mobs that intimidated the boy who belongs to the Scheduled Tribe community.
Rinchin, Shivani, Kalpana, Samantha
M.P. Mahilla Manch