Mixed marriage brings Hindu death threats

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 April, 2007, 12:00am

Mumbai police have been ordered to protect a young Muslim man and his Hindu wife because of threats to their lives and the danger that, if they return to their central Indian home city of Bhopal, riots could break out.

Angry members of Hindu nationalist group Bajrang Dal have clashed with police in Bhopal over the marriage of Mohammed Umer, a 22-year-old Muslim, to Priyanka Wadhwani, 20, a Hindu.

The activists believe Muslim men go out of their way to seduce Hindu girls and then compel them to convert to Islam before marriage.

'We will no longer tolerate good Hindu girls being lured by Muslim boys. Why is it that Muslim girls never run off with Hindu boys? Why do they want to take our girls away?' said Keshav Das, a Bajrang Dal activist. This case, however, diverged dramatically from their script - because Mr Umer converted to Hinduism as a gesture of devotion to his new bride.

After the April 2 marriage, the bride's parents called Bhopal's police to accuse Mr Umer of kidnapping. On Wednesday, furious Bajrang Dal activists staged a protest outside Mr Umer's parents' home and blocked the roads.

The couple filed a petition in Mumbai's high court asking for help preventing harassment of Mr Umer's family and deal with death threats they themselves had received. The judges, in an unusual move, ordered police to protect the lovebirds.

'We are relieved. I left of my own free will and was not kidnapped. My husband's family is being harassed by the police and we hope the court's order will stop it,' the new bride told The Times of India.