December 27, 2019 / 9:01 AM / 2 months ago

In tense north India, Muslim family says Hindu neighbors stood guard at a wedding

LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) - Members of a Muslim family in northern India said they were able to conduct the wedding of a young woman last week after neighbors from the majority Hindu community stood guard in an area that was tense after deadly violence the previous day.

Two people were killed in the city of Kanpur on Dec. 20 amid protests against a new citizenship law brought by the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Wajid Fazal told Reuters he had fixed the wedding of his niece, Zeenat, the next day and was inclined to cancel it because of the violence.

“I was in a dilemma thinking about the preparations we had done,” Fazal said in a telephone interview. He said Hindu neighbors came forward and promised to remain at the venue to ensure nothing untoward happened.

“About 40 Hindu brothers were at my house until we bid farewell to my niece in the night,” he said.

“I will never forget this favor.”

Many of the protesters opposing the law have been Muslims, because they say it discriminates against the minority community. They form the bulk of the 25 people killed in protests since the law was passed on Dec. 11.

Modi’s government has followed a strong pro-Hindu agenda since it came to power in 2014. Anoop Tiwari, one of the men who helped organize the Hindu group at the wedding, is a member of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“The BJP never discriminates,” he told Reuters. “Zeenat is like my daughter and it was our responsibility to get the marriage done on the decided date, with the decided groom and the decided venue.”

Reporting by Saurabh Sharma; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Robert Birsel

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