Family members of a woman in Nagla Mulla village in Uttar Pradesh’s Firozabad district harassed the family of a 23-year old Muslim man facing charges under the state’s anti-conversion law on Thursday, The Indian Express reported. The incident which led to tension in the locality, took place despite the 19-year old woman’s testimony which asserted that she left home out of her own free will and got married to the man in a court without converting.

People from the woman’s village in neighbouring Jamalpur gathered outside the man’s house and chased his family members, the police said, adding that they were stopped before violence broke out.

“Some who were caught by the police were let off after they claimed they were not from that village,” Sadar Circle Officer Hiralal Kanaujiya, told The Indian Express. “We have talked to the man’s family and they too confirmed there was no stone-pelting, but they were chased.”

Station Officer of local Matsaina police station Vinay Kumar Mishra said that the woman knew the 23-year old for three years and they were in love.

“The woman said they had a court marriage before running away,” Mishra said. “She claims they had a nikaah. But we are verifying the documents provided by her, as they show her name as Zeenat and she claims she has not converted. She is denying the allegations that she was forced into the marriage or faced any pressure.”

The woman left home with the man on December 22, following which a case under the anti-conversion law and of kidnapping was lodged against him on December 26, according to The Indian Express. The police was still looking for the man, while the woman was brought back to her family on Monday.

‘Love jihad’ law

The ordinance against unlawful conversions was promulgated by Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel on November 28, days after it was passed by the Adityanath-led state Cabinet. The law is intended to target “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 their brides to Islam.

However, in a number of cases, the charges have later proved to be false. Earlier this week, police in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district dropped a case against three Muslim men who had been charged under the law for sexually harassing and stalking a 22-year-old woman, after her allegations turned out to be false. Then on Thursday, the Uttar Pradesh government told the Allahabad High Court that there was no evidence against a Muslim man, who was one of the first ones to be charged. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court agreed to examine the constitutional validity of anti-conversion laws, but refused to stay the controversial legislations.

Apart from Uttar Pradesh, four other BJP-ruled states – Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana and Assam – have also decided to introduce laws aimed at preventing inter-faith marriage. The decisions are despite the fact that Centre had told the Lok Sabha last February that no case of “love jihad” had been reported by any of the central agencies.