After bringing a law to curb religious conversion for the sake of marriages, the UP government is planning to withdraw a scheme which incentivises interfaith marriage for 44 years.
The scheme for Inter-caste and Interfaith marriage incentive has been in the state since 1976. It was initiated by the National Integration Department of the UP. Earlier an interfaith couple could avail the scheme by applying to the district magistrate within two years of the marriage. After verification, the district magistrate forwardee the application to the national integration department for consideration.
“In UP, 11 interfaith couples were beneficiaries of the scheme last year and got Rs 50,000 each,” a senior government official reportedly said. Further, he added that “This year no amount has been released. The 4 applications that were filed remained pending. The scheme will be reconsidered after the (Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion) Ordinance.” The Uttar Pradesh government approved the draft of a stringent law to deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage, which BJP leaders refer to as "love jihad". An official spokesperson said “the approval for the ordinance was given at a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow. The ordinance has also been cleared by the Governor Anandiben Patel”. In 2017, the state government had added a section to the scheme whereby an interfaith couple could not convert after they got married, or they would lose the incentive. The UP chief secretary Rajendra Tiwari in an interview with the Times of India said that he could not speak about the scheme because he did not have its details before him. Further, referring to what has been called “love jihad” by politicians he added that “the ordinance does not discourage interfaith marriage, its aim is to punish those who cheat their partners and force them to convert. Marriages are used instruments to convert people.”