From 5-year jail term to non-bailable offence: What states say on ordinance against ‘love jihad’
According to experts, the charges of “love jihad” are bogus and that adult men and women are free to convert under the right to freedom of religion.
Several states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, have said they will bring in laws to check “love jihad”, described by Hindu activists as an organised conspiracy of Muslim men to trick Hindu women into marriages and bring about a demographic change.
The Madhya Pradesh government said on Tuesday that a bill will be passed in the next session of the state assembly against “love jihad”. It will a provision of five years in jail for forced conversions for marriage. The Haryana government also indicated on the same day that it will constitute a committee of officials to study and draft law to that effect. Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have also said they will bring in legislation to end love jihad.
However, according to experts, the charges of “love jihad” are bogus and that adult men and women are free to convert under the right to freedom of religion. In February, the central government told Parliament that there was no definition of the term and no such cases were reported by agencies.
Congress-ruled states have opposed the introduction of such legislation.
Also read | ‘Love Jihad’ a term created by BJP to divide nation: Gehlot
Here’s what the states want to do against “love jihad”:
UP’s home department has sent a proposal to the state’s law ministry for a stringent law to deal with the alleged religious conversion of women in the name of marriage. News agency PTI citing a government spokesperson that a proposal for strict law against “love jihad” has been sent to the law department.
This has come after chief minister Yogi Adityanath said earlier this month that his government is planning to introduce a law to regulate interfaith marriages involving Muslim men and Hindu women, citing a high court order to promise that his administration would secure and protect women in the state.
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“Taking a serious note of such incidents [of forceful conversion and cruelty], the CM has directed that a concrete strategy be made to control such incidents. It has often been seen that this is being done in an organised manner. If required, an ordinance can be brought for it,” an official earlier told news agency PTI. Last year, the Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission submitted a report to Adityanath, suggesting “a new law to check forcible religious conversions.” Kanpur Police had also set up a special investigation team to look into “love jihad” cases.
The central state’s home minister Narottam Mishra had said on Tuesday the Madhya Pradesh Dharm Swatantrey (freedom of religion) Bill, 2020, will be passed in the next session of the state assembly. Mishra said the law -- with a provision of five years in jail for forced conversions for marriage -- was necessitated because of rising cases of love jihad. He insisted that the BJP government was not against interfaith marriages but only against incidents of love jihad.
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“We are going to table the Madhya Pradesh Dharm Swatantrey Bill, 2020, in this winter session in December against love jihad, which means a woman is forced or lured by a person of other religion for marriage and later she is tortured for conversion,” said Mishra.
The proposed law doesn’t mention any religion in particular in its provisions. Mishra said the bill proposes rigorous imprisonment for five years for “luring a person through fraud and forcing marriage by religious conversion”. Other proposed provisions include making it mandatory for kin of the person being converted for the purpose of marriage to file a complaint.
“The forceful conversions and marriages will be a cognisable offence and non-bailable. There will be a provision for declaring such marriages null and void,” said Mishra. Besides, those assisting in such acts will be made co-accused in the case, he added.
Haryana home minister Anil Vij said the state government intended to constitute a committee of officials to study and draft law against love-jihad. “We will first have a discussion with the chief minister, ML Khattar, in this regard,’’ Vij said. Vij said a representative of the advocate general’s office would also be a part of the committee. This committee will study similar laws enacted by other states, he added.
The BJP national general secretary CT Ravi said on Friday that a ban on “love jihad” and cow slaughter would be a reality in Karnataka very soon. Ravi, a former Karnataka minister, said a law banning both practices would be passed in the upcoming assembly session. He said there are serious deliberations going on in government circles as BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel has also urged chief minister BS Yediyurappa to take steps in this regard.
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“Love Jihad and cow slaughter ban have been approved by the BJP core committee. The clamour to bring in a law banning cow slaughter has grown louder. We intend to do so,” the Chikkamagaluru legislator said during a press conference.
Ravi had said earlier this month that on the lines of Allahabad High Court’s order, Karnataka would enact a law banning religious conversions for the sake of marriage. Allahabad High Court had said in its October 31 order that religious conversion just for the sake of marriage was not valid. “We will not remain silent when Jihadis strip the dignity of our sisters,” Ravi had said, adding that anyone involved in any act of conversion would face severe and swift punishment.
Also read: Stop attacking interfaith marriages | HT Editorial
Union minister Giriraj Singh on Friday supported the implementation of law against “love jihad” in Bihar and claimed that the subject has become a cause of trouble in many states. The BJP leader requested the Nitish Kumar government to understand issues like “love jihad” and population control have nothing to do with communalism, but that they are a matter of social harmony.
Singh told reporters “love jihad” should be seen as a problem not only among Hindus but also among all non-Muslims in all states of the country. He said that in Kerala where there is a large population of Christians, community members have expressed concern over this development.
(With agency inputs)