At a time when the BJP government is facing hard criticism for its inability to curb sexual crimes against women, in Maharashtra, it is planning to pass a law to encourage inter-caste and inter-religion marriages. The legislation will also protect couples who become victims of honour killing and have to face social boycott. Is the government bringing this legislation to lure the youth who are miffed with the administration for its failure to act against rape offences?
Justice B.G. Kolse Patil, a formerjudgeof Bombay High Court said, “It’s a good decision and inter-caste and inter-religion marriages should get encouragement. However, the various other decisions taken by the government like demonetisation, GST, and land acquisition were against the public interest. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had called for the abolition of caste but it continues to prevail in the country. Our society doesn’t think beyond caste and religion.”
Since youth constitutes a major chunk of the vote bank, hence the government is leaving no stone unturned to appease them ahead of the 2019 state Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. Youth are also active on social media and the government can’t ignore their voices. Their votes will decide the outcome of the election; hence, the government is keen to please them. Therefore, even employment and educational schemes are being announced by the government to attract them.
BJP spokesperson Shirish Boralkar said, “The reason behind bringing this law proposal is to promote social and communal harmony between different castes and religions. People should see the positive side of this decision.”
“Government is working for the welfare of the people. Our philosophy is to bring people of various castes and religions together. No politics is involved in it but the opposition is trying to defame BJP. We have not taken this decision with the election in mind and it is for a social cause,” he added.
After the Unnao and Kathua rape incidents, youths across the country had held demonstrations in various parts of the state demanding justice for the victims. Even though the government had amended the anti-rape law to provide the death penalty for rapes of minors below 12 years it won’t deter rapists from committing the crime. Many of them don’t fear the law and roam scot-free after committing the crime. The slow-paced justice delivery system too is responsible for the backlog of huge rape cases in the country.
Shyam Sonar, Bhima-Koregaon Sangharsha Samiti member said, “Yes, there is some political motive behind this decision. When BJP government had come into power only Nitin Aage brutal murder incident had occurred. However, now there has been a surge in Dalit exploitation cases; therefore, people have lost confidence in the government. This decision has been taken to please the youth.”
Rape cases have already increased in Maharashtra by 36 per cent. Crime rates in the state are already going up where 12 women were raped and 30 were molested every day in 2017. Mumbai which was once known as a safe city for the women too has become unsafe for them. One in six of the molestation cases were registered in the city in 2016. Statistics compiled by the State Crime Records Bureau revealed that 4,356 women were raped and 12,238 women were molested in 2017.
Dr. Hamid Dabholkar, General Secretary of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti said, “If the government is planning to offer protection to the couples who belong to different caste and religion then it’s their responsibility to implement it effectively. Social tension increases between families when couples belonging to different religion and castes get married. Many times police don’t intervene to resolve such issues, so government should frame laws and implement it at the ground level.”
State social justice minister Rajkumar Badole said that the law will provide protection to the couple who are facing threat in their lives. He added, “If one of the spouses belongs to the backward community and another from the general category, the child born to them is deprived of the benefits of reservations and other concessions. The government will provide the children of such couples the benefits that one of their parents is already getting.” The state government has already passed the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016 which disallows social boycott in the name of caste, community, religion or customs.
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