The Uttar Pradesh government is now all set to throw away a 44-year old incentive scheme, which for reasons best known to people ruling the state back then, provided financial benefits to interfaith couples. The scheme, so to say, aimed at incentivising inter-faith marriages and rewarding couples who entered into such marriages. However, with Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister, such senseless incentivising of interfaith marriages is all set to be dumped in the trash cans. The doing away of the scheme, by the way, comes days after Uttar Pradesh got itself an anti-love jihad and anti-forced conversions law.
The ‘Inter-caste and Inter-faith Marriage Incentive Scheme has been in place since 1977, initiated by the national integration department in Uttar Pradesh. To avail the scheme, interfaith couples can approach the district magistrate after two years of their successful marriage. After initial scrutiny, the proposal is sent to the government from districts. Once the names are shortlisted, the eligible couples are awarded Rs 50,000. Taking a cue from Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand is also rethinking its position on the same scheme.
For the Uttar Pradesh government to have an anti-love jihad law on one hand, and a scheme which incentivises inter-faith marriages would have been dichotomous, which is why the Yogi administration is now doing away with the latter. Already, cases under the ‘Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2020’ have been registered.
Uttar Pradesh has been a prime victim of love jihad, which is why Yogi Adityanath had sounded the death knell of the Islamist practice recently and vowed the strictest possible action against culprits of the same. “Allahabad High Court said religious conversion isn’t necessary for marriage. Govt will also work to curb ‘love-jihad’, we’ll make a law…I warn those who conceal identity and play with our sisters’ respect. If you don’t mend your ways your ‘Ram naam satya’ (final Hindu funeral chant) journey will begin,” Yogi had said. The UP-Chief Minister further added, “The posters of those involved in love jihad will be put on all road crossings.”
Taking a cue from Uttar Pradesh, states like Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Assam have also stepped up their game against love jihad and forced conversions. In the 21st century, there is nothing special about interfaith marriages, and they must be treated as no different than marriages culminated between couples of the same faith. Yogi Adityanath has done well to dump a regressive scheme which financially incentivised interfaith couples until recently only because they marry out of their faith.