Uttarakhand mulls ending scheme that gives Rs 50k for inter-faith marriages | India News – Times of India

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DEHRADUN: One of the first states to have passed a law against ‘love jihad’, Uttarakhand may end monetary benefits extended to couples who had an inter-faith marriage.
The move is being mulled after the state government got into a sticky situation recently when the social welfare department issued a press release providing details of 18 couples in one district alone (Tehri) who had benefited from a scheme which provides Rs 50,000 for inter-faith marriages.
Uttarakhand had in 2018 passed the ‘Freedom of Religion Bill’, entailing a two-year jail term for anyone found guilty of religious conversion through force or allurement. With it, Uttarakhand had joined states like Odisha, MP, Chhattisgarh, HP and Gujarat to have the anti-conversion law in one form or the other.
Recently, when the social welfare department issued the press release outlining benefits given under the scheme to inter-faith couples, questions were raised by a section of people who alleged that the government was promoting ‘love jihad’ by continuing with such schemes. CM TS Rawat was quick to order a probe into the matter. Sources said the state administration, in a fix now over the issue, is mulling dropping the financial assistance for inter-faith marriages. It is likely to continue with the monetary assistance for inter-caste marriages though.
When asked, state urban development minister and government spokesperson Madan Kaushik told TOI, “The scheme was brought in during the time of the Congress government when Uttarakhand was part of Uttar Pradesh in 1976. Again, the Congress government when in power in 2014, raised the amount from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 for inter-religion marriages. However, when we came up with our Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018 and it was cleared in the state assembly, the scheme became null and void.”
“The scheme has been scrapped but if there is still some confusion, it will be sorted out soon,” he added.
The opposition Congress attacked BJP, saying it is “misleading people yet again.” Congress state vice-president Suryakant Dhasmana said, “The scheme had been in existence even before the formation of the state and has not been scrapped and still continues. Secondly, even if the scheme is scrapped, how can one prevent two persons hailing from different religions from marrying, as it is a right provided by our Constitution?”

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