'They told me that the marriage registrar would send a letter to my parents informing them about my marriage.'
'The marriage registrar also told me that he would also speak to my neighbours and only then he will give me a character certificate which will ensure that I get married.'
'Worse, the officials in the marriage court discouraged me to marry a Muslim man.'
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Anita (name changed), a resident of Gurugram in Haryana, wanted to marry her boyfriend Aslam, under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, which facilitates inter-religious marriages.
However, a Haryana government rule stymied her, forcing her to knock on the doors of the Punjab and Haryana high court, where she scored a major victory last month.
In his order, Justice Rajiv Narain Raina ruled that the procedure of a court marriage 'must reflect the mindset of the changed times in a secular nation promoting inter-religion marriages'.
The Court Marriage Check List, the judge said, 'largely violates the couple's Right to Privacy' and it should be simplified.
Anita spoke about her legal victory, why she went to court against the Haryana government, and how she was threatened with murder by her family in an interview to Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.
I, Anita, an Indian adult, was trying for the last two years to marry my boyfriend Aslam in Gurugram.
I tried to convince my parents, but they did not agree.
Though I wanted to marry Aslam, I didn't want to convert to Islam, but remain a Hindu.
So I thought I must marry under the Special Marriage Act which gives two people freedom to marry each other irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either.
But when I went to the Gurugram marriage registrar, I was shocked to find the rules under the Act in Haryana.
They told me that the marriage registrar would send a letter to my parents informing them about my marriage and that he would also personally visit my parents's home (for verification).
The marriage registrar also told me that he would also speak to my neighbours and only then he will give me a character certificate which will ensure that I get married.
This news was shocking. I told him that if you are going to send a notice to my parents, then what is the point of the Special Marriage Act? Why do we need it?
Worse, the officials in the marriage court discouraged me to marry a Muslim man.
They told me that Muslims sell Hindu girls after marriage and that I must not marry Aslam.
They also told me Aslam will get another wife soon and my status in his life would be reduced to a second wife as Muslims keep four wives quite often.
Discouraged by such events I thought I will find some solace with my friends, but they too ditched me.
They thought I have lost my mental balance to marry a Muslim man.
So, Aslam and I were left to fight our battle alone.
I could have converted to Islam and any maulana could have got us married, but I did not want to do that as the whole world would have then called Aslam as 'love jihadi'.
I didn't want that. I wanted my identity to remain intact as Anita.
Not knowing what to do, I approached Dhanak of Humanity organisation that helps couples like us to marry according to our choice.
They told us that if I did not want to change my religion to marry, then the only way was to challenge the Haryana government's rule which requires parents being informed before the marriage.
After consulting with Aslam, I challenged this law in the court.
The judgment was in our favour and the court instructed the marriage registrar not to send any letter to my parents informing them about my marriage.
The court also said that in future too this will not happen to other couples.
In fact, I wonder when the Supreme Court has allowed live-in relationships, then why do couples need to stay in different homes before they get married? (Under the Haryana rule they were required to submit different address proofs to get the marriage registered).
Why can't they stay in one home before marriage and, while registering their marriage, give the same address?
I could have got married in Delhi too, but I wanted to get married in Gurugram as my office is nearby.
Now I am ready to marry, but I feel sad that my parents will not be a part of the ceremony.
I love them, but just because I fell in love with a Muslim boy, the equations have changed.
My parents do not accept a single paisa from my earnings as they feel I should not have fallen in love with a Muslim boy.
They told me to marry a Hindu man and tried to emotionally blackmail me by saying it would 'save their honour'.
I told my parents that if I got married according to their wish, I would not be happy; and they too will be unhappy for life.
So what is the point of marrying someone else?
When I fell in love with Aslam I never believed that this will bring problems in our lives.
My parents had locked me up at my native place for a week but then better sense prevailed and they let me go to work.
My upbringing was very secular and I never realised that, culturally, Hindus are so different from Muslims.
I have now disappeared from social media as I do not want my picture to circulate.
I was even threatened by my family that they can bump me off too.
In office too, my colleagues do not know about my personal life. I get this feeling that they will be too shocked to know that I am in love with a Muslim boy.
Therefore, I keep quiet and don't discuss my personal life.
Many of my friends told me that I must dump him, but I cannot leave Aslam just because he is a Muslim.
I went to court against the Haryana government because I felt that if today I do not take a stand, in future too, no Hindu girl will dare to marry a Muslim, or vice versa.
I don't want that. And I am not saying everything will change in society but something will surely change by this victory of mine.
I feel the only difference between Hinduism and Islam is the way we pray.
Hindus have a different method of praying and Muslims have different method. Good and bad people are there in all religions, that is what I feel.
As far as our children are concerned, chances are that they might follow the religion of their father, but if they want to be a Hindu, then we will let them to be.
We have no problems with that.