Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Inter-religious marriage stalled in Madhya Pradesh by VHP

Submitted by kashif on Sun, 2006-12-24 15:56.

Bhopal, Dec 24 (IANS) A government official in Madhya Pradesh has allegedly refused to allow an inter-religious marriage between a Christian man and a tribal woman at the behest of a Hindu group, triggering a political controversy.
Meena Gond (36), a polio-afflicted tribal girl and Peter Abraham (38), a Christian rickshaw-puller, were not allowed to tie the nuptial knot by a marriage official following opposition by Dharam Sena, an offshoot of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The Sena said such a marriage would boost "conversion" in the state.

The couple had applied for marriage in the Jabalpur district marriage office in October. The mandatory 40 days notice period - during which objections, if any, could be filed - expired on Nov 13 but the official, Deepak Singh, refused to solemnise their marriage because "the groom is a Christian while the bride is not".

"Peter is a Christian. And he lured the tribal girl by offering her money. Sooner or later, she will be forced to change her religion," maintained Sudhir Agrawal, convener of the Sena in Mahakaushal region.

"We have specific knowledge that some Christian missionaries are doling out money to people like Peter to influence tribal people to convert their religion," he said.

The opposition Congress party has threatened to launch an agitation if the poor couple was not allowed to marry by the year-end.

"We conveyed our protest plans to the district collector," said Jabalpur district Congress president Naresh Saraf.

Madhya Pradesh Christian Association president Indira Iyengar has condemned the Sena's attitude saying, "How does the Dharam Sena come into picture when both the bride and groom are adults?"

"Even the government provides incentives for marrying a tribal girl. The law enforcing agencies should deal with the matter strictly," she said.

Meanwhile, Meena's brother Radhey Gond has denied the Sena's allegation.

Radhey said: "How can a daily wage earner afford to entice any woman by providing money?"

Peter, on the other hand, is running from pillar to post to convince the officials that there was nothing fishy about his marriage.

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