‘Love jihad’ law may lead Yogi govt to scrap interfaith marriage promotion scheme, in place since 1977

The ‘Inter caste and Interfaith Marriage Incentive Scheme’ has been in place since 1977, under which eligible couples can apply for a government award of Rs 50,000

UP CM Yogi Adityanath (IANS)
UP CM Yogi Adityanath (IANS)

NH Correspondent/Lucknow

The Uttar Pradesh Government is caught in a cleft stick over the issue of interfaith marriages after it brought in an ordinance to ban ‘illegal’ interfaith marriage, called ‘love jihad’ in common parlance, since it happens to have a government scheme in place since 1977 to incentivize interfaith marriages.

“There is a law since 1977 which incentivized inter-faith marriages. The UP government is now not sure what to do with this 43-year-old law in light of the ordinance – whether to scrap it or continue with it. Indications are that the government may give it a silent burial,” a senior official told this reporter in Lucknow on Tuesday evening.

The Yogi government last week brought in the controversial ‘Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2020’, which makes interfaith marriages punishable if religious conversions are made under ‘coercion’. Cases have already been filed under this new legislation since it was enacted last Saturday.

The ‘Inter caste and Interfaith Marriage Incentive Scheme’ has been in place since 1977, initiated by the national integration department in Uttar Pradesh. To avail the scheme, interfaith couples can approach the district magistrate after two years of their successful marriage. After initial scrutiny, the proposal is sent to the government from districts. Once the names are shortlisted, the eligible couples are awarded Rs 50,000.

In 2020 the government had shortlisted 11 couples for the 2019-20 fiscal although it is yet to honour them.

“After promulgation of the new ordinance, it would be difficult for such couples to come forward and ask for the government reward. They would now be afraid of government persecution. I believe this innovative scheme could die a silent death,” CB Pandey, a former legal advisor to the Governor said.

Interestingly, Uttarakhand, the hill state which was carved out of Uttar Pradesh, retained this scheme even after it formulated a legislation against interfaith marriages. “UP can take a cue from Uttarakhand and retain the interfaith promotion scheme. But everything depends on Chief Minister Yogi,” he added.

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Published: 02 Dec 2020, 1:03 PM