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Why was this BJP leader forced to call off marriage of his daughter with Muslim boy?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

A marriage of two individuals belonging to different faiths was ultimately postponed as the 'champions' of the social morality dominated the discourse and threatened the father of the girl who happened to be the chairman of Pauri city municipality. Yashpal Benam, a BJP leader, posted the invitation of his daughter's wedding with a Muslim boy from Uttar Pradesh. Both the boy and the girl became friend during their B Tech course and were in relationship. There were reports that they already got married in the court but we don't know the reality. Perhaps the family of the girl wanted to send a message of 'acceptability' and 'appreciation' of such a marriage by the society.
Invitations were sent to all but soon after it went wide spread on the social media, the champion of Hindu dharma jumped into the fray and started threatening the father. There were hundreds of calls asking the father hundreds of questions about the marriage. What was strange was that father was ready to provide all the answers to every tom dick and harry who felt 'hurt' with the marriage. Question is why in India we become so insensitive to the individuals issues.
The father hails from the Sangh Parivar back ground. There are number of politicians in Jan Sangh BJP and RSS whose daughters or sons are married to Muslims.
We don't need to bother about these things as they are individual affairs but then BJP raises lots of issues about inter faith marriages terming them as Love Jehad. Of course, the same Sanghis and the brahmanical shouting brigade has never ever promoted the inter caste marriages among Hindus. They would never encourage and appreciate marriages between savarnas and OBC or savarnas and Dalits. Love Jehad angle is basically meant to force people to marry with in their castes. India is ultimately a country of castes where each one of us are too proud of it that we forget that we are human being too and that there are good and bad people everywhere.
Yashpal Benami tried to put a brave face for some time but later when the entire issue became dangerously out of control then he had to postponed the ceremony. I hope the marriage is not cancelled, merely the programme. Question is what do you make out of the entire issue.
I was speaking to a friend from Pauri who said that it might be a conspiracy too to create deliberately the Hindu Muslim issue which the BJP always want otherwise what is there in Pauri to raise this issue.
Yashpal Benami would have silently done it but perhaps he too was doing it for the political gains, may be a consolidation of Muslim votes for him but that boomeranged as the poisonous anti Muslim propaganda is already there in the air for last few years and when the state apparatus not only use these extra state actors to promote the hate agenda then we must realise that things have move beyond our control.
What can be done? The only thing that would have been possible under all national and international laws is that the choice of two individuals is ultimately theirs. The courts remain silent on these issues and their silence has encouraged the extra state actors to take law unto their hands. For the political people, their own ideological issues will haunt them. The Hindutva leaders know it well that they cant do anything if two individuals are getting married out of their choice but what seems to bother them is the 'legitimacy' by the masses.
If the family has accepted them and the relatives too are coming for it, then there is a chance others too will follow the suit and that make them worried. The main worry is: why should the children decide things about themselves. Isn't it a joke that we consider an 18-20 years old boy and girl capable enough to elect our lawmakers for parliament and assemblies but unable to look after themselves. I mean, how and why should we think that they cant make a right choice? And it is also not a matter or right or wrong choice because marriage or friendship do happen and can be undone peacefully if they dont grow up. Hanging up with things for the sake of the social system give us extreme pains and create turbulence in our lives but then in our societies we all dont go for friendship and marriage for ourselves but for 'society'.
I have seen how people 'celebrate' 'intercaste' and 'interfaith' marriages while I say nobody would opt on its own for an inter caste and interfaith marriage. The important thing should be respecting the individual choices and not making a propaganda out of two individual joining hand and making a union. When the personal issues are used to gain political brownie points or get likes on social media then we must be prepared to listen to the other side of the story. That is where caste forces jump into it. In most of the cases, parents and relatives dont agree particularly that of the girl as they feel 'betrayed' but in this case, the father of the girl was promoting the wedding on social media, may be to prove a point that parents must respect the wishes of their children. Unfortunately, Yashpal Benami became victim of the culture propagated by his own party. The moralists jumped and started targeting him.
Let us hope that the two individuals remain safe and happy. When our institutions fails and political parties dont speak on issues these things happen. We all love our jaatis and jaati patriarchy which will never allow the individuals to life on their own terms and conditions.
The last point, I wish to make for the interfaith couples or inter-caste couples is that because they marry out of their own so important for them to opt for secular wedding, taking oath on Constitution and respecting the individual identity. Don't impose your religious values on your children. Make them secular because ultimately it is our secular constitution that allow us space for such marriages.
Thank to Baba Saheb Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru that you have a legal framework to support otherwise a theocratic state would not allow you for such marriages. Interfaith marriages will not survive on merely celebrations of each other's festivals but delinking your children completely for religious propaganda and turning them respecting humanist values. Let the humanist tribe grow which is only possible through respecting individual choices and giving them dignity and respect.
The Constitution must prevail on all to protect our rights as religious thugs try to intrude in our individual lives and dictate terms and conditions to us. Should we allow this to happen in the name of 'culture'. The only guardian for our protection is Constitution and Constitutional Rights and any other person imposing his own will or threatening or intimidating other is purely violating law of the land and action must be taken against them. Let the media not legitmise street thugs in the name of 'culture and morality' as the only morality in India should be constitutional morality.
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*Human rights defender

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