A virtual press conference, “The Myth of Love Jihad”, organised by the non-profit organisation called Dhanak, was twice disrupted by people threatening inter-faith couples, using expletives and warning them of “love-jihad” charges against the couples.
Dhanak is a Delhi based organisation mostly comprising of inter-faith and inter-caste couples. Founded by a few inter-faith couples, it began as a support group in 2004 and was registered under the Societies Registration Act in 2012.
As seen in the video shared by Dhanak, the first interruption was caused by a person threatening interfaith couples from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh with legal action. The second interruption was from a person who identifies as Mithila Thakur and issued death and rape threats.
Co-founder of Dhanak, Asif Iqbal, was also warned and asked to stop these ka*** (a slur used for Muslim men). The disruptor also threatened that they’ve noted down the names of all these couples and all of them would soon be locked up in jails.
The event was organised to discuss the recently passed “love jihad” laws to supposedly stop forced conversion.
A number of inter-faith couples from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, West Bengal and Delhi, attended the conference and spoke about their experiences.
They spoke of the various challenges they had to overcome including family pressure, financial problems, fear of the new ordinances, of their marriage not being recognised as legal and how the law restricts the rights of women.
After the disruptions, Iqbal went on to comment how people are being threatened in an online event also. “You can see the kind of people who are joining and threatening us but we’re not doing anything unconstitutional. We can fight this,” he said.
Iqbal also spoke of how the complications with the Special Marriage Act force people to turn to a religious marriage and unfortunately the onus of conversion falls mostly on the woman.
The couples also revealed that none of them wanted to convert but the challenges with the Special Marriage Act forced them to hurriedly have a religious ceremony or flee their state.
The conversation emphasized on the removal of the one month notice requirement and how that would make things a lot easier. It also stressed on the requirement of safe houses where couples can spend that one month.
Iqbal also advised couples to “not compromise now and give into boundaries that they have already transcended. Don’t let your marriage become a marriage of unequals.”