Members of Hindutva group Karni Sena allegedly stopped an inter-faith marriage at a court in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district, claiming that it was a case of forced religious conversion, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.
A Muslim man named Dilshad had gone to the court with a Dalit woman on Wednesday to get married, PTI reported.
A purported video of the incident showed Karni Sena members harassing the woman, who said that she was marrying the man willingly. “What is your name?” a man asked the woman in the video. “What caste are you from? Which caste does the man belong to? Is he Muslim? Why do you want to marry a Muslim?”
Karni Sena members then reportedly took the couple to a police station. Ballia’s Superintendent of Police Vipin Tada said the woman’s father alleged that she had been abducted and the police filed a case based on his complaint.
Dilshad has been detained, according to the Hindustan Times.
“We will present her in a court soon, where she will record her statement,” the police officer told The Indian Express. “Further action will be taken based on her statement, as the woman is an adult.”
However, the police denied that it was a case of “love jihad” – a pejorative term coined by the right-wing groups to push the conspiracy theory that Muslim men charm Hindu women into marrying them with the sole purpose of converting them to Islam.
“Some people alleged that illegal conversion was taking place but nothing of that sort was found,” the police said, according to The Indian Express.
The family members of Dilshad also refuted this accusation. “Dilshad and the woman know each other for the last couple of years,” his cousin Akram Ahmad told the Hindustan Times. “They both wanted to marry, but their families were against it.”
Ahmad added: “The woman was forcefully married to a man in Shahjahanpur last year, but she returned home after a few months. I think Dilshad and the woman got married secretly and went to court to register their marriage.”