In a major decision to combat the menace of ‘grooming jihad’, the Uttar Pradesh government is reportedly planning to withdraw a decades-old scheme that promoted and incentivised interfaith marriage in the state, reports Times of India.
According to the reports, the Uttar Pradesh government’s Intercaste & Interfaith Marriage Incentive Scheme, that was started in 1976, promoted and rewarded interfaith couples with a monetary incentive. The scheme was initiated by the national integration department in Uttar Pradesh.
However, the Uttar Pradesh government has now reportedly decided to withdraw the controversial scheme amidst the rising number of forced conversions and ‘Grooming Jihad’ cases. The significant decision also comes days after Uttar Pradesh government had brought an ordinance to curb the rising menace of Grooming Jihad cases in the state, where increasinv number of non-Muslim women are being targeted under false identities and later forced to convert.
The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, which has been promulgated with the approval of the Governor, will now land offenders in jail for up to 1 to 5 years and attract a fine of Rs 15,000. Under the new law, the offenders proven guilty for mass conversion will attract a jail term of 10 years.
No amount has been released this year: Uttar Pradesh govt
Reportedly, the interfaith couples had to apply to the district magistrate within two years of marriage to become the beneficiaries of the scheme. After verification, the district magistrate forwarded the application to the UP national integration department.
Speaking to TOI, a senior government official said 11 interfaith couples were beneficiaries of the scheme last year and got Rs 50,000 each in UP. The officer added that no amount has been released this year. The four applications that were filed remain pending as it will be reconsidered after the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion ordinance, the officer added.
Earlier in 2017, the state government had also added a caveat to the scheme stating that the interfaith couple will not be eligible for the scheme if either gets converted after the marriage.
UP Minister Shrikant Sharma said that the scheme exists for now. He said, however, that he cannot comment on its continuation. Speaking on the ordinance, the UP Minister added, “The ordinance means to stop forced conversion and punish those who hide their identity to cheat their partners.”
Uttarakhand to follow Uttar Pradesh, to scrap the scheme
Uttarakhand, which retained most of the laws from the parent state Uttar Pradesh, had also continued with the controversial 1976 scheme to provide incentives to interfaith couples for their marriage.
However, Uttarakhand has decided to withdraw the scheme after a controversy had erupted recently in the state after a district administration shared a notice regarding the same.
In an order passed by Tehri Garhwal district’s social welfare officer recently, it was specified that the government had decided to incentivise and promote interfaith and intercaste marriages in the state in an effort to bring unity in the society and country at large. Under the scheme, the social welfare department in the state would provide Rs 50,000 to a person marrying outside his caste or religion.
The Uttarakhand government faced a lot of criticism for the notice, alleging that such schemes will only promote religious conversions and ‘Grooming Jihad’ (Love Jihad) in the state. following the controversy, the order was revoked and a probe was ordered by the CM.