Despite facing stiff opposition from pro-Hindutva groups and being harassed by caste activists in Mandya for 'falling prey' to love jihad, MBA graduates Ashitha Babu and Shakeel Ahmed exchanged vows in a closed ceremony in Mysuru on Sunday.
Apart from family and friends, policemen too attended the inter-faith wedding, particularly to monitor any untoward act against the couple from the saffron brigade that had previously opposed the couple's decision to marry.
The police, according to The New Indian Express, barricaded the entrance of the wedding hall and around 100 police personnel, including five inspectors, were deployed at different points. Police, in civilian clothes, were also deployed inside the wedding hall.
According to a report by NDTV, right-wing Hindu activists protested against the wedding outside the bride's home on 12 April, calling it "love jihad" and alleging that Shakeel, who is a Muslim, was forcing Ashitha, a Hindu, to convert to Islam by marrying her.
Since the time the two families collectively agreed to the marriage, members of Bajrang Dal and Mandya Vokkaligara Sangha opposed, claiming it was a case of love jihad.
“A group of people claiming to be Bajrang Dal activists came to our house on 12 April and said they wanted to guide my daughter. They demanded that she abandon her plans to marry Shakeel. When she refused, they made some remarks and my daughter started crying,” said Ashitha’s mother, Uma Devi on speaking to The Indian Express.
"We told Bajrang Dal activists it is not love jihad, but a marriage between children of two friends. But they were not ready to listen to us," Dr Narendra Babu, Ashitha's father, was quoted saying by The Times of India.
After the Hindu groups had spoken to the parents, they staged protests outside the residence of the girl shouting love jihad slogan. The group dispersed after police intervention.
According to a report by The Hindu, local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists, terming them a case of ‘love jihad’, had launched a campaign against the families on Tuesday.
It was after police intervention that the protesters dispersed.
"Even if I get married to a Hindu guy, I have to practise traditions of his family. I'm in love with him and I'm getting happily married with the consent of our parents, " Ashitha had said, as reported by Deccan Chronicle.
The couple had been friends for 12 years before seeking the consent of their parents to get married to each other. Ashitha converted to Islam a few days before the wedding, changing her name to Shaista Sultan.
Although the relatives of the family were initially taken aback by the decision, they supported the wedding of Shaista and Shakeel later.