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No garba entry without ID proof, says BJP minister in MP; rakes up 'Love Jihad' row


BHOPAL:  This Navratri, entry at garba pandals in Madhya Pradesh won’t be allowed without authentic identity proofs, state’s culture and tourism minister Usha Thakur said in Gwalior on Thursday. 

The decision has been taken to prevent people from entering garba venues after hiding their identities to indulge in ‘love jihad’, Thakur added.

“Whoever comes to the garba pandals should possess authentic identity proofs. Without proper ID proofs, entry will not be allowed,” she said.

“Garbas had in the past turned into a big way to carry out love jihad activities, but now all concerned stakeholders have become alert about it. To ensure that nobody enters the venues by hiding real identity, identity cards will be checked,” she added, asking the event organisers to ensure strict implementation of the decision.

“This is a salaah (advice) as well as naseehat (instruction),” Thakur said.

This is not the first time Thakur has waded into a similar controversy. When she was the BJP MLA from Indore-III seat of Indore district in 2013, she had, ahead of the Navratri celebrations, demanded a ban on entry of non-Hindus, particularly Muslims, at the Garba venues, calling it an attempt to prevent Muslim men from seducing Hindu girls and women.

She had then demanded making Aadhar and other ID proofs mandatory for entering the venues by “posing as Hindus”.

In 2017, an umbrella group of Hindu festival organisers in Bhopal, the Hindu Utsav Samiti, had also asked the district administration to make possession of Aadhar cards necessary as identity proof to prevent the entry of non-Hindus at the festival venues.

Reacting to Thakur’s instructions, state Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja said that while ensuring measures to prevent entry of people hiding their actual identities at the garba events is acceptable, calling the venues as hubs of love jihad is deplorable.

Garbas, which form an integral part of Navratri celebrations in many parts of India, are organised all over Madhya Pradesh, but they are most popular in the Malwa-Nimar region, including Indore and adjoining districts.

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