The controversy surrounding a new anti-conversion law in India has been brought to light by reports of a pregnant Hindu woman who was forcibly removed from her Muslim husband and may have miscarried.
A video clip went viral in India earlier this month.
It included a group of males heckling a woman in Moradabad, a town in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh while wearing orange scarves over their necks.
One of the men reprimands her, “It’s because of individuals like you that this law had to be enacted.”
The protesters came from the Bajrang Dal, a staunchly Hindu organization that backs the Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (BJP).
The law they refer to is the Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, which the state recently passed in an effort to combat “love jihad,” a term used by radical Hindu groups to denote the practice of Muslim men preying on Hindu women in order to convert them to Islam through marriage.
The incident seen in the video happened on December 5. The 22-year-old woman, her husband, and his brother were given up by the Bajrang Dal activists to the police, who subsequently placed her in a shelter and detained the males.
The woman, who was seven weeks pregnant, claimed she miscarried while in detention a few days later.
She informed the magistrate that she was an attorney earlier this week, and the court authorized her to go back to her husband’s house.
She has claimed that the workers at the shelter mistreated her in talks with the media since being freed on Monday night. She also claimed that her initial concerns of stomach pain were disregarded. The claims have been refuted by the shelter.
“They brought me to a hospital [on December 11] when my condition started to deteriorate. I was admitted following a blood test, and after receiving some injections, I began bleeding.”
She claimed that she received further shots two days later. She claims that when the bleeding intensified and her health declined, her baby died.
It is still unknown if it is accurate and what specifically occurred in the hospital.
While she was still being held on Monday morning, the authorities denied rumours that she had miscarried. Interviews with her mother-in-law served as the basis for the reports.
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The allegations she has made after her release, however, have not yet received any response from the authorities. Additionally, they haven’t given her the outcomes of her ultrasound tests or information about the medications she had injections of.
Five days after she was first carried to the hospital, the baby’s condition is still unknown, which raises concerns.
In India, however, the news that the young woman might have experienced a miscarriage has sparked fury, with many people rushing to social media to criticise the government.
Interfaith unions have long drawn criticism in India, where families frequently oppose them.
But the new law provides the state direct control over the people’ ability to love and select a spouse by mandating that anyone intending to convert must get clearance from the district authority.
It carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence and does not allow for bail for violations. Similar legislation against “love jihad” is being drafted in at least four more BJP-ruled states.
The rule has drawn criticism for being backward and disrespectful, as well as for being used to attack interfaith relationships, particularly those involving Hindu women and Muslim men.
Additionally, a petition requesting its repeal was submitted to the Supreme Court.
At least six incidents have been documented under the contentious law in the short time since it was passed on November 29.
Interfaith marriages between consenting adults and even ones requiring parental consent have been stopped, and Muslim grooms have even been detained.
The 22-year-old woman claims that in July in Dehradun, a city in the neighbouring state of Uttarakhand, she converted to Islam and married her Muslim husband. When they arrived in Moradabad to register their marriage, they were stopped.
According to historian Charu Gupta, “the fundamental issue with a law like this is that it considers interfaith love as a criminal action.”
Additionally, it disdains a woman’s independence and disregards her free will. Who a woman chooses to marry is entirely up to her. What’s the issue even if she decides to change her religion?
This statute, she claims, “has such a broad range and reach, and it places the burden of proof on those who are accused under it. And that is quite risky.