Fearing riots, Dadri’s Hindu man-Muslim woman couple refused marriage registration

Dadri is again in the news, but this time for UP Government authorities who refused a marriage registration for a Hindu man and a Muslim woman, fearing it might ‘trigger’ a communal riot. The couple has been living in fear and uncertainty for more than six months after failing to get their marriage registration done, and they are constantly facing threats to their life from the girl’s family.

marriage registration
Manjeet Bhati (L) Salma(Sapna) Arya. Source

According to this article, Manjeet Bhati (24) and Salma (now Sapna Arya, age 20) fled from Dadri on October 19 last year. Three days later, Salma adopted Hindu Dharma and changed her name to Sapna Arya, after which the couple got married at an Arya Samaj temple. The couple alleges that they have repeatedly visited government offices over the past five months and met senior district officers, but no one has helped them to register their marriage. They also say that the marriage registrar, who refused to make their marriage official, demanded a bribe of Rs 20,000.

Manjeet Bhati claims that he has met all the senior district officers, including the district magistrate, ADM, SDM and city magistrate, but received no support, following which he wrote to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, asking him to intervene.

Manjeet and Sapna said they feared attacks from the bride’s relatives and she sought protection from the area’s senior superintendent of police. According to this news, her relatives filed an FIR against Manjeet in Meerut after she eloped with him. They said Sapna was a ‘minor’ and Manjeet had kidnapped her,

“My parents died while I was quite young. I was living with some relatives who wanted me to marry an elderly man,” said Sapna. “But Manjeet and I were friends for long and we decided to get married.”

“As my relatives have threatened to kill us, we sought protection from police for a month and then we appeared before the magistrate in Meerut in December 2015,” she said. “I produced my certificate and my medical test was done, which established I was an adult. The magistrate ordered that I was free to live with anyone and I chose my husband.”

Similar case in Kerala

In a similar case from Kerala in 2014, a Hindu man and Muslim woman were on the run for around 10 months before they were able to get their marriage registration done . Even then, they kept receiving death threats from Muslim fundamentalists and the girl’s family, and police were helpless to stop it.

marriage registration
Anshida (L) Gautham (R). Source

Gautham and Anshida had been on the run for more than 11 months when this report was filed. Anshida’s parents are politicians affiliated to Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and they are against the marriage. Gautham’s parents accepted the couple, and did not ask Anshida to convert. However, the parents’ house and the house of a relative in Wayanad was attacked by ‘unidentified gangs’ to scare Gautham.

The big question

Is it the same when a Hindu man gets married to a Muslim girl, as it is when a Muslim man gets married to a Hindu girl in Bharat or elsewhere? Legally it should be (at least in Bharat), but in the real world both these cases are miles apart.

A Hindu girl marrying a Muslim man is a much more common occurrence in Bharat than the reverse. Prominent Muslim men such as Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan are both married to Hindu women & epitomize this trend. Tragically, some Hindu girls who end up in such marriages are the victims of love jihad. In the overwhelming majority of such cases, the Hindu girl converts to Islam under pressure from the Muslim boy and his family, and whatever opposition the girl’s family might have had initially soon fizzles out. The wider Muslim community welcomes such marriages as it meets their religious obligation to spread Islam and convert the unbelievers (Hindus).

As per the Quran and Islamic law (sharia), a Muslim woman is formally forbidden to marry a non-Muslim man, while a Muslim man is allowed to get married to a Christian or a Jew, considered by the Islamic schools as “People of the Book” – however, a Muslim man cannot marry a polytheist (Hindu) woman until she converts to Islam. So Islamic sharia law immediately rules out even the slightest possibility of a Hindu man marrying a Muslim girl in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia.

Now, does this sharia law apply in a ‘secular’ country like Bharat too? Technically, a Muslim girl can marry a Hindu boy in Bharat under the Special Marriage Act. But the reality is that de-facto sharia rules. Muslim girls are hardly allowed to mix with the opposite sex, and even less with Hindu boys. In the rare case when such couples overcome all odds and contemplate marriage, the opposition from the girl’s family and the entire Muslim community is fierce and, often, violent – their policy is ‘never forgive, never forget’. The boy’s family don’t really care if the Muslim girl adopts Hindu Dharma – in fact, there have been cases when the Hindu man ends up converting to Islam to soften opposition by the girl’s family! The wider Hindu community doesn’t really care for such marriages, and would rather avoid anything which ‘disrupts communal harmony’. The secular Bharatiya state too largely twiddles its thumbs and fails to protect the couple as happened in the Dadri case.

Hence there is no doubt that a Muslim man can marry a Hindu girl with no or less trouble and lead a relatively peaceful life, while a Hindu man marrying a Muslim girl faces all the legal hurdles to even get his marriage recognized by official marriage registration, and lives in constant fear from the Muslim community. This is the harsh reality of the current secular state of Bharat.