'UP has become epicentre of hate politics': Over 100 ex-civil servants write to Yogi Adityanath, seek withdrawal of 'love jihad' ordinance

A group of 104 retired bureaucrats, in a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, have demanded the withdrawal of the state government's ordinance against "love jihad".

The signatories made a specific mention of a case from Moradabad, in which an interfaith couple was accosted allegedly by members of the Bajrang Dal, after which the woman suffered a miscarriage. The letter notes, "The anti-conversion ordinance of your state is being used as a stick to victimise especially those Indian men who are Muslim and women who dare to exercise their freedom of choice. While the various high courts, including the Allahabad High Court, have ruled unequivocally that choosing one’s life partner is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution, the state of UP is blithely undermining that very Constitution."

According to a report in The Indian Express, the retired bureaucrats further noted in their letter, "It has become painfully evident that, in recent years, UP state, once known as the cradle of the Ganga-Jamuna civilisation, has become the epicentre of the politics of hate, division and bigotry and that the institutions of governance are now steeped in communal poison."

The letter further read, "What is worse is that your law enforcement machinery, with the active backing of your government, is playing a role reminiscent of the secret police in authoritarian regimes. You can pose no greater threat to the nation than by turning its own citizens against one another, a conflict that can only serve the country’s enemies."

The Uttar Pradesh Police has made more than one arrest a day since the controversial anti-conversion ordinance came into effect over a month ago, having apprehended about 35 people till 26 December. Nearly a dozen FIRs have been lodged since the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, was notified on 27 November.

In some cases, the accused persons have got a reprieve from courts. In Muzaffarnagar district, one Nadeem and an accomplice were arrested on 6 December for allegedly trying to force a married Hindu woman to convert. However, the Allahabad High Court later directed the police not to take any coercive action against Nadeem.

Likewise, in Moradabad, two brothers, arrested earlier this month under the anti-conversion law, were released on an order of a chief judicial magistrate court.

However, some others have not been as lucky. For example, in Bijnor, a teenager has been in jail for over a week for allegedly forcibly trying to convert a 16-year-old Hindu girl, according to an NDTV report. This is despite both the girl and her mother had denied that the teen tried to forcibly make the former convert her religion.

Meanwhile, the Allahabad High Court has asked the state government to respond to a petition which contended that the ordinance impinges upon the fundamental right to choice and the right to change of faith.

During the hearing, the high court refused to grant any interim relief and directed the state government to file a counter affidavit by 4 January.

With inputs from PTI

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