The Uttar Pradesh Police stopped an interfaith marriage in the state’s capital Lucknow, citing the newly passed anti conversion law, between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man, despite consent from the families.

The wedding was to take place in Lucknow’s Para area on Wednesday. Just minutes before the rituals began, the police intervened and asked both parties to accompany them to the station after receiving complaints from a Hindu outfit.

At the police station, both parties were asked to first seek a clearance for the marriage from the Lucknow District Magistrate.

Suresh Chandra Rawat, a senior Lucknow police officer, told the media, “On 2 December, we received information that a girl from one community was wanting to get married to a boy from another other community.  We called both sides to the police station and handed them a copy of the new unlawful conversion ordinance and both sides have given written consent that as per law, they will inform the DM (District Magistrate) and get his permission before moving ahead with things.”

The families of both bride and the groom have said that the wedding was taking place with consent from both families and there was no coercion involved. The families intend to complete the legal formalities required and then go ahead with the marriage.

The Uttar Pradesh Unlawful Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance (2020) states that religious conversions that use falsehood, force or an incentive, or take place solely for the purpose of marriage will be declared a crime. The ones who plan to convert after marriage will have to inform the District Magistrate of their intention at least two months in advance, the ordinance says.

The burden of proof that the conversion was not forced for marriage is on the person converting. The cases filed under this ordinance will be non-bailable.

The ordinance says that forced conversions or conversions through fraud will be a punishable by imprisonment for up to five years or fine of Rs 15,000. If the conversion involves women from marginalised communities then imprisonment will be between three and ten years and fine Rs 25,000 and mass conversions attract similar jail term and fine of Rs 50,000.