A Hindu married a Muslim for love. Her dad and mom known as the police


4 different states dominated by the BJP have both handed or launched related laws.

In Kashmir, the place Bali and Bhat lived, members of the Sikh neighborhood have disputed the legitimacy of the wedding, calling it “love jihad”. They’re pushing for related anti-conversion guidelines.

Whereas proponents of such legal guidelines say they’re meant to guard weak ladies from predatory males, specialists say they strip ladies of their company.

Shahid Nazir Bhat, a Muslim who married Manmeet Kour Bali and was accused by her Sikh dad and mom of kidnapping her, at his residence in Srinagar.Credit score:Showkat Nanda/The New York Occasions

“It’s a basic proper that girls can marry by their very own selection,” mentioned Renu Mishra, a lawyer and girls’s rights activist in Lucknow, the Uttar Pradesh capital.

“Typically the federal government and the police officers have the identical mindset of patriarchy,” she added. “Truly, they don’t seem to be implementing the legislation, they’re solely implementing their mindset.”

Throughout the nation, vigilante teams have created an unlimited community of native informers, who tip off the police to deliberate interfaith marriages.

One of many largest is Bajrang Dal, or the Brigade of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god. The group has filed dozens of police complaints in opposition to Muslim suitors or grooms, in keeping with Rakesh Verma, a member in Lucknow.

“The foundation reason for this illness is similar in every single place,” Verma mentioned. “They wish to lure Hindu ladies after which change their faith.”

Responding to a tip, police in Uttar Pradesh interrupted a marriage ceremony in December. The couple had been taken into custody, and launched the next day when each proved they had been Muslim, in keeping with regional police, who blamed “anti-social components” for spreading false rumours.

A Pew Analysis Centre examine discovered that the majority Indians had been against anybody, however notably ladies, marrying outdoors their faith. Nearly all of Indian marriages — 4 out of 5 — are nonetheless organized.

The backlash in opposition to interfaith marriages is so widespread that in 2018, the nation’s Supreme Courtroom ordered state authorities to supply safety and protected homes to those that wed in opposition to the need of their communities.

In its ruling, the court docket mentioned outsiders “can’t create a state of affairs whereby such {couples} are positioned in a hostile surroundings.”

The constitutional proper to privateness has additionally been interpreted to guard {couples} from stress, harassment and violence from households and non secular communities.

Muhabit Khan, a Muslim, and Reema Singh, a Hindu, saved their courtship secret from their households, assembly for years in darkish alleyways, deserted homes and desolate graveyards. Singh mentioned her father threatened to burn her alive if she stayed with Khan.

In 2019, they married in a small ceremony with 4 visitors, considering their households would ultimately settle for their determination. They by no means did, and the couple left the central metropolis of Bhopal to start out a brand new life collectively in a brand new metropolis.

Papers displaying that Manmeet Kour Bali is legally married to Shahid Nazir Bhat and that she has willingly transformed to Islam, in Srinagar.Credit score:Showkat Nanda/The New York Occasions

“The hate has triumphed over love in India,” Khan mentioned, “And it doesn’t appear it can go wherever quickly.”

In Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state, the BJP-led authorities handed a invoice in March modelled after the Uttar Pradesh legislation, stiffening penalties for spiritual conversion by marriage and making annulments simpler to acquire.

The federal government shouldn’t be “averse to like,” mentioned the state’s residence minister, Narottam Mishra, “however is in opposition to jihad.”

Members of Kashmir’s Sikh neighborhood are utilizing Bali and Bhat’s case to press for the same legislation in Jammu and Kashmir.

“We instantly want a legislation banning interfaith marriage right here,” mentioned Jagmohan Singh Raina, a Sikh activist based mostly in Srinagar. “It should assist save our daughters, each Muslims and Sikhs.”

Manmeet Kour Bali, right, with her second husband in a photo provided by Manjinder Singh Sirsa, head of the largest gurudwara, or Sikh temple, in New Delhi.

Manmeet Kour Bali, proper, along with her second husband in a photograph supplied by Manjinder Singh Sirsa, head of the biggest gurudwara, or Sikh temple, in New Delhi.Credit score:The New York Occasions

At a mosque in northern Kashmir in early June, Bali, 19, and Bhat, 29, carried out Nikah, a dedication to observe Islamic legislation throughout their marriage, in keeping with their notarised marriage settlement.

Afterward, Bali returned to her dad and mom’ residence, the place she mentioned she was repeatedly crushed over the connection.

“Now my household is torturing me. If something occurs to me or to my husband, I’ll kill myself,” she mentioned in a video posted to social media.

The day after she recorded the video, Bali left residence and reunited with Bhat.

Although a spiritual ceremony between folks of the identical religion — as Bhat and Bali had been after her conversion — are recognised as legally legitimate, the couple had a civil ceremony and received a wedding licence to bolster their authorized protections. The wedding settlement famous that the union “has been contracted by the events in opposition to the want, will and consent of their respective dad and mom.

“Like hundreds of different {couples} who don’t share the identical spiritual perception however respect one another’s religion, we thought we are going to create a small world of our personal the place love will conquer every part else,” Bhat mentioned. “However that very faith turned the rationale of our separation.”

Bali’s father filed a police criticism in opposition to Bhat, accusing him of kidnapping his daughter and forcing her to transform.

On June 24, the couple turned themselves into the police in Srinagar, the place each had been detained.


On the court docket, Bali recorded her testimony earlier than a judicial Justice of the Peace, testifying that it was her will to transform to Islam and marry Bhat, in keeping with her assertion. Exterior, her dad and mom and dozens of Sikh protesters protested, demanding that she be returned to them.

It’s unclear how the court docket dominated. The judicial Justice of the Peace declined requests for a transcript or an interview. Her dad and mom declined an interview request.

The day after the listening to, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, the top of the biggest Sikh gurdwara in New Delhi, flew to Srinagar. He picked up Bali, along with her dad and mom, and helped organise her marriage to a different man, a Sikh. Following the ceremony, Sirsa flew with the couple to Delhi.

“It could be flawed to say that I satisfied her,” Sirsa mentioned. “If something hostile was occurring, she ought to have mentioned.”


A written request for an interview with Bali was despatched by way of Sirsa. He mentioned she didn’t wish to speak.

“She had an actual breakdown,” he mentioned, repeating Bali’s dad and mom’ claims that their daughter was kidnapped and compelled to marry Bhat.

Bhat was launched from police custody 4 days after Bali left for Delhi.

At his residence in Srinagar, he’s combating the kidnapping prices. He mentioned he was making ready a authorized battle to win her again, however he feared the Sikh neighborhood’s disapproval would make their separation everlasting.

“If she comes again and tells a choose she is proud of that man, I’ll settle for my destiny,” he mentioned.

The New York Occasions

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