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Days after a new ordinance was passed by the Uttar Pradesh government to criminalise unlawful conversion, the police in Lucknow stopped a wedding ceremony between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man, citing the new law.
The wedding was supposed to take place on Wednesday, December 2, in Lucknow's Para. However, minutes before ceremonies were to start, a police team reached the wedding venue and asked both parties to accompany them to the local police station.
Both sides were asked to first get clearance for marriage from the Lucknow District Magistrate.
A Hindu Mahasabha district president Brijesh Shukla had submitted a complaint about the wedding, National Herald reported.
"On 2 December, we received information that a girl from one community was wanting to get married to a boy from another other community. We called both sides to the police station and handed them a copy of the new unlawful conversion ordinance and both sides have given written consent that as per law, they will inform the DM (District Magistrate) and get his permission before moving ahead with things," Suresh Chandra Rawat, a senior Lucknow police officer said.
"When the police reached the venue, they found that preparations were underway to conduct marriage rituals as per Hindu traditions. Later, the wedding was to be solemnised through Muslim rituals. The wedding was taking place with the consent of both families, but the planned religious ceremonies could not have been conducted without conversion," Rawat said.
The Uttar Pradesh Unlawful Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance (2020) state that religious conversions that take place only for the purpose of marriage will be declared a crime. Those who decide to convert after marriage, the state government said, will have to inform the District Magistrate of their intention at least two months in advance.
According to the ordinance, forced conversion will be punished by up to five years' imprisonment or a fine of ₹ 15,000.
If the forced conversion involves a woman from marginalised communities, then the jail term will increase to between three and 10 years' jail and a fine of ₹ 25,000. Mass conversions will attract a similar jail term and a fine of ₹ 50,000.
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